Giving a slew of directions,the Delhi High Court today permitted the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to demolish “illegal constructions” at a site near Jama Masjid to ascertain whether remains of a Mughal-era structure existed.
The court also directed the police to take legal action against “miscreants” who had damaged public property despite its restraint order on July 20.
In an interim order today,a full bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri asked the ASI to implement its July 19 notice.
The ASI had asked the North Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove the “illegal constructions” as it fell within the regulated area of centrally protected monuments of Red Fort and Sunehri Masjid.
“The stand of the ASI is unequivocally reflected in its notice dated July 19,2012 with which MCD (now NDMC) is in agreement. The two concerned authorities with the assistance of police should implement the statutory mandate without fail,” the bench,also comprising the justices S K Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher,said.
In its notice,the ASI asked the NDMC to remove the said unauthorized construction within 15 days of the receipt of this notice failing which the same will be removed at your cost,” the notice also said.
NDMC was given 15 days time to remove the unauthorised construction.
“As per the provision of Section 20B of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation)Act,every area beginning at the protected limits of the concerned centrally protected monument and existing upto a distance of 100 meters in all directions shall be prohibited area for the purpose of construction and mining…..
The bench asked ASI to submit its first report in a sealed cover by October 11.
Taking cognisance of the allegation that at the instance of local MLA,a structure was built illegally near the historical monument,the bench had stayed further construction of the structure at the site.
“The ASI should begin its task in right earnest with all technical assistance to verify the position at site as also qua the items discovered from the site,which they should take possession of,” the court directed.
“It will be open to the ASI to carry out further digging or any other activity at site as they deem appropriate for verifying the site position and respective claims.”
Extending its order restraining further construction at the site,the court directed MCD and police to render all assistance to ASI and ensure that the area is cordoned off.
The bench further directed police to take legal action against those who were indulged in “damaging” the public property despite court’s stay order at the site.
“The police authorities will also make all endeavour to bring to book the miscreants who caused damage to public and private property,injured persons and attempted to create a communal incident at the site after our order of July 20.” the court said.
“The police will maintain vigil at the site and unnecessary rumour mongering and endeavour to give communal overtone is prevented.
All measures as are necessary to do so will be taken,” the order also said declining a plea to allow people to offer prayers for ongoing Ramzan.
Further the court asked the parties to maintain peace and harmony and adhere to the assurances they have given before LG.
Following purported discovery of the remains of a Mughal era structure Akbarabadi Mosque on the site near Red Fort during an ongoing work by Delhi Metro,locals led by MLA Shoaib Iqbal had begun building a mosque there earlier this month.
Even people had gathered there to offer namaj defying the NDMC order,which had banned any religious activity there.
The NDMC had declined to grant permission to any party to carry out any religious rituals till a proper decision is taken and had warned that anybody indulging in construction was liable to prosecution as the said land belongs to the municipal body.