8 Feb 2023 8:11 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to expeditiously consider the plea of an NGO in case it wishes to co-organize a cultural programme at Agra Fort on February 19 on the occasion of birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with Maharashtra government. Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing a plea moved by Maharashtra based registered trust...
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to expeditiously consider the plea of an NGO in case it wishes to co-organize a cultural programme at Agra Fort on February 19 on the occasion of birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with Maharashtra government.
Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing a plea moved by Maharashtra based registered trust R.R. Patil Foundation along with Ajinkya Devgiri Pratishthan, challenging a communication of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) dated December 23, 2022, denying permission to organize the event.
The court took note of an official memorandum dated January 14, 2005, issued by ASI stating that only government departments and public bodies are permitted to organize cultural events inside protected monuments and sites.
It also noted that an application filed by the petitioner NGO had received support from Chief Minister of Maharashtra. However, it noted that the government in question is not a co-organizer of the event.
It was the petitioner’s case that a letter was written by Chief Minister of Maharashtra to the union minister of Culture in December last year with regard to organising the event at the monument on February 19.
“Since the OM and policy of ASI has been in operation for almost 18 years now and no challenge has been made to the same, it is deemed appropriate to direct that if the petitioner wishes to co-organize the event along with the State, they may move a letter to ASI which shall be considered expeditiously,” the court said.
While disposing of the plea, Justice Singh clarified that the direction is passed in view of the petitioner’s stand that they have approached the Maharashtra government for coordinating the event, which is under consideration.
It also granted liberty to the petitioner NGO to approach court if there is a delay in consideration of the letter by ASI.
It was the petitioners’ case that they and people of Maharashtra are “emotionally attached to the Agra Fort” where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son were “imprisoned and kept captive by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.”
The plea submitted that ASI failed to accord reasons and simply rejected the petitioners’ request or application. It added that despite the petitioners’ request through various modes and letters, no response was received.
“The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra has also written communication to be considered positively for the event. The Petitioners cannot wait till eternity as the Birth Anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is on 19.02.2023 and cannot be shifted or modified and the undue delay and wrongful rejections affects the fundamental rights of the Petitioners herein,” the plea stated.
It was submitted that ASI’s action of denying permission have abridged the petitioners’ rights under Article 19 of the Constitution of India that deals with the freedom to organize events to promote, promulgate the heritage and social values of national figures and icons anywhere in the country.
It added that a mechanical order passed by an authority is not sustainable and thus the impugned communication of ASI is liable to be set-aside
Title: RR Patil Foundation & Anr. v. Archaeological Survey of India & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 129