Court stays construction of mosque near Jama Masjid

July 20th, 2012 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday stayed the construction of a mosque near the proposed Jama Masjid Metro station and told the municipal corporation to hand over the site to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court’s full bench also told the ASI to probe whether the 17 century Akbarabadi Masjid existed on the site or not.

“We are of the opinion that it is ASI which has to take over the site immediately to investigate whether Akbarabadi Masjid existed there or not,” the court said.

It also ordered the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to cordon off the site with the assistance of the police so that no one can enter the area.

The bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdher said: “There should not be further construction on the site. The MCD shall cordon off the area with the assistance of police. The police is also directed to provide full cooperation to MCD.”

The Delhi government was also directed to hold the highest level of meeting to deal with the issue.

“We also expect that the government at the highest level will hold a meeting to deal with the issue,” the court said.

A high-level meeting had earlier been called by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to stop the construction. The meeting was attended by the ASI director general, police commissioner and officials of the union ministry of urban development.

The court also asked MCD to file a status report on the Jama Masjid development plan and slated the matter for July 25.

“Meanwhile, the MCD shall submit latest status report regarding Jama Masjid development plans,” the bench said.

The court’s direction came after senior advocate Aman Lekhi along with a group of lawyers referred to media reports on the construction at the site.

They sought the direction of the court alleging that a legislator from Matia Mahal, Shoaib Iqbal, was illegally constructing a mosque on the government land near Jama Masjid.

Lekhi argued that the MCD and police had failed to stop the construction and did not take action against Iqbal who had taken law into his hands.

Digging in Subhash Park area for the Delhi Metro project had led to the discovery of a building’s remains, believed to be of the Mughal-era Akbarabadi Masjid. Soon, Iqbal and his supporters started the construction of a mosque on the site.

The counsel appearing for the MCD told the court that it was ready to cordon off the area and seal the site but the police had to cooperate with it.

Delhi Police’s standing counsel assured the bench that the police would fully cooperate with the MCD.

Subhash Park falls within the restricted zone of two protected heritage sites — the Sunehri Masjid and Red Fort.

Any construction in the area requires permission from the National Monuments Authority.

The Delhi Metro has already shifted the location of the upcoming station 50 metres from the site.

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