Monday, July 30, 2012

Raze illegal construction near Akbarabadi mosque: Delhi High Court

NB: Following the recent purported discovery of the remains of the Mughal era Akbarabadi Mosque during digging by Delhi Metro, local people led had begun building a mosque there earlier this monthThey were led by MLA Shoaib Iqbal. This is an instance of blatant communal mobilisation by this MLA. As usual, 'religious sentiment' is being used to violate the law. The idea is to create a furore if the authorities try and demolish the half-completed new mosque. It is irresponsible provocation for selfish ends, and should be resisted. - Dilip

The Delhi high court on Monday allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove illegal construction at the purported excavated mosque site near the historic Jama Masjid. A special bench of acting chief justice AK Sikri, justice SK Kaul and justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the ASI to implement its order dated July 19 in which it directed North Delhi Municipal Corporation to remove the unauthorised construction within 15 days. People in Subhas Nagar area close to Jama Masjid started the construction of a mosque at the site after a building's remains were discovered early this month at the site excavated for Delhi Metro work. The area people claimed that the remains were those of the 17th century Mughal-era Akbarabadi mosque...

Also see: Mosque site cordoned off amid protest from locals

ASI, corporation told to remove building
ASI had asked the corporation to remove the unauthorized construction within 15 days of the receipt of the notice, failing which the heritage body would remove it. In response, the corporation indicated its willingness to remove the construction as it fell within the regulated area of Red Fort.  The full bench also pulled up MLA Shoaib Iqbal and his conduct, reminding him that the State is not supposed to advance the cause of one religion to the detriment of another. "At least, an elected member of the Assembly, who belongs to the ruling government, and, thus, a part of the State, should not have resorted to illegal construction. The State has no religion," the bench said, asking police to immediately book miscreants who damaged public property and attempted to create a communal atmosphere at the site. "It is high time that such a group is made accountable both in civil law and criminal law," the court said. 

The bench added it is for ASI to decide how it wants to carry out its task and said it has full authority to undertake further digging at the site if required. HC also made it clear even if some pre-existing religious structure is unearthed at the site by ASI, the land will still be a public land and ASI will be the sole authority to decide to what use it puts the site to.  Asking ASI to submit its first report in a sealed cover by October 11, the court said, "ASI should begin its task in right earnest with all technical assistance." Extending its order restraining construction at the site, the court directed the corporation and police to assist ASI and ensure that the area is cordoned off. HC also asked police to prevent rumour mongering so that any endeavour to give communal overtones is stopped. "All measures as are necessary to do so will be taken," the judges said and declined a plea to allow people to offer prayers for Ramzan or perform puja at the site. Following the purported discovery of the remains of the Mughal era Akbarabadi Mosque during digging by Delhi Metro, local people led had begun building a mosque there earlier this month.