Thursday, Oct 28, 2004
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By Our Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI, OCT. 27. The Delhi High Court today directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to inform it within a week of the steps it had taken to declare the historic Jama Masjid here a protected monument under Section 4 of the Archaeological Survey of India Act.
A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice B.C. Patel and Justice B.D. Ahmed also summoned the Darya Ganj Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to explain to the Court why no action had been taken so far to clear the illegal constructions around and encroachments on the historic monument despite orders to this effect by the Court in 2000 and 2002.
The direction by the Bench came after counsel for the Delhi Waqf Board informed the Court that it would have no objection if the Mughal period monument were declared a protected monument.
The Bench asked the SDM to be present in person in the Court to explain the delay in removing the encroachments. At the last hearing, the Union Government had submitted that since the monument was a property of the Waqf Board, it could not be notified a protected monument before taking its opinion.
The Bench has been hearing the public interest litigation by the Heritage & Cultural Forum, a non-governmental organisation, run by Usha Kumar, a Delhi High Court lawyer.
In her submission, Ms. Kumar submitted that despite her request to the ASI, the mosque had not so far been declared a protected monument by it, though the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the DDA had included it in their respective lists of protected monuments.
She urged the Court to direct the ASI and the Government to declare the mosque a protected historical monument.
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