Thursday, February 22, 2024

Qutub Minar ownership rights: Saket court rejects review petition

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A local court in the national capital has rejected a review petition (IA) claiming ownership rights over the Qutub Minar complex, while posting the application seeking worship rights for Hindus and Jains inside the complex to January 27 for hearing.

The Saket court had earlier disposed of a plea filed by Kunwar Mahendra Dhawaj Prasad Singh, claiming the ownership of the Qutub Minar complex. He then filed a review petition, which also got rejected today.

Claiming himself to be an heir of the United Provinces of Agra, Kunwar Mahendra said the property of Qutub Minar, including the minaret and the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, should be given to him, since it belonged to him.

On September 13, Additional District Judge Dinesh Kumar at Saket court had reserved order on his Intervention Application.

The intervenor had submitted that the government after 1947, encroached on his property and he has Privy Council records.

Appearing for the Hindu side, Advocate Amita Sachdeva submitted that the intervenor was claiming property rights after 102 years. He was not interested in any kind of relief from the court. This petition was nothing more than a publicity stunt and should be dismissed with heavy costs.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) submitted in an affidavit that the applicant claimed his right over the mentioned cities in and around Delhi, but has not raised the claim since independence (1947) before any Court of Law as surmised from the submissions by the applicant.

Moreover, the applicant’s claim of ownership and right of prevention of interference in his property has lapsed by the principle of the case for delay and laches, since the time period to file a recovery/possession/injunction against the same, be it of three years or 12 years, has already expired by many decades, added the ASI.

It said during the time of declaring the property in question as a Protected Monument in 1913, the complete procedure was followed and no one came before the authorities to object and hence, counting the period from 1913 to 2022, the period of limitation has already lapsed many times over.

Advocate Vishnu Jain, appearing for the petitioner (Appellant), apprised the court that Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid situated within the Qutub Minar complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex.

Jain read Section 16 of the AMASR Act 1958, “A protected monument maintained by the Central Government under this Act which is a place of worship or shrine shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character.”

Earlier, the ASI had opposed the appeal, stating that Qutub Minar was a monument and no one could claim a fundamental right over such a structure.

As per the Ancient Monuments Act, the Qutub Minar Complex was a monument and no right to worship can be granted at this place, it added.

It said there was no provision under AMASR Act 1958, under which worship could be started at any living monument. The agency further said that the Delhi High Court has clearly mentioned this in its order dated January 27, 1999.

The suit was filed on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev and Hindu deity Lord Vishnu (through their next of friends), seeking restoration of the alleged temple complex, comprising as many as 27 temples.

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