Qutub Minar: ASI opposes intervention petition in case of restoration of Hindu, Jain deities

The objections could only be resolved by an independent suit along with the necessary parties as defendants for redressal of disputes, the ASI said.

New Delhi: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday opposed a plea before a Delhi court claiming ownership of Qutub Minar property, saying the intervention petition was baseless and devoid of any logical or legal reasoning.

The court was hearing a plea claiming that the intervenor was a necessary party in an appeal seeking the restoration of deities inside the alleged temple complex within Qutub Minar property.

The petition filed on June 9 claimed that Kunwar Mahender Dhwaj Pratap Singh was an heir of the United Province of Agra and the owner of lands in several cities in and around Delhi, including the property of Qutub Minar.

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The ASI said that the plea was insufficient to assert any right in the present appeal and the intervenor’s claim of ownership of lands in and around Delhi was not raised before any court of law since 1947.

As the time to file a case for recovery or possession or injunction had expired by several decades, the claim of ownership and the right to the prevention of interference in his property had lapsed by the principle of delay and laches, the ASI said.

When Qutub Minar was declared a protected monument in 1913 as per law, no one raised objections and the period of limitation had lapsed many times over, the ASI said.

It further said that the intervenor did not challenge the ownership of land and claim possession.

Also, the intervenor did not implead the representative owners of land for the centre and state, the Land & Development Office (L&DO) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) respectively, the ASI said.

The objections could only be resolved by an independent suit along with the necessary parties as defendants for redressal of disputes, the ASI said.

Hence, the plea to be joined as a necessary party in the appeal is baseless and devoid of any logical or legal reasoning and hence opposed, the ASI said.

Taking note of the absence of the counsel of the intervenor and providing one last opportunity for the counsel for making arguments, Additional District Judge Dinesh Kumar posted the matter for further hearing on September 13.

Before the filing of the current petition, the court had earlier reserved an order on the appeal against a trial court order, dismissing the suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, claiming that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutubdin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohammad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.

Along with the restoration of deities within the alleged temple complex, the original suit had also sought the issuance of directions to the central government for framing a scheme of administration and creating a trust to maintain the property, worship, and conduct puja as per the relevant provisions of the Archaeological Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMSAR) Act, 1958.

Civil Judge Neha Sharma rejected the suit in December 2021, saying as per the provisions of law and relevant government notification, the ownership of the property was with the government, and the plaintiffs did not have any right to claim restoration and right to religious worship.

The judge also observed that wrongs committed in the past cannot be the basis for disturbing the peace of our present and future.

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