HC refuses to advance hearing on plea against stopping namaz in Mughal mosque
Delhi HC refused to advance the hearing of a plea by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board against the ASI stopping namaz at Mughal Mosque in the city’s Mehrauli area
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to advance the hearing of a plea by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board against the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) stopping namaz at Mughal Mosque in the city’s Mehrauli area.
The counsel for the petitioner said the matter was “ripe for final disposal”, and in view of the upcoming religious occasions, the hearing scheduled for August 21 should be advanced.
The central government counsel opposed the request and said he would file a response to the rejoinder filed by the petitioner. “List on date already fixed,” said Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri.
The grievance of the petitioner before the high court is that the officials of the ASI completely stopped the offering of namaz in the Mughal mosque on May 13, 2022, in an “absolutely unlawful, arbitrary and precipitous manner”, without serving any notice or order.
In its reply to the petition, the Archaeological Survey of India said the mosque comes within the boundary of Qutub Minar and is within the protected area where prayers cannot be permitted.
During the submissions, petitioner’s counsel M Sufian Siddiqui emphasised that the Mughal mosque was distinct from the “contentious” Quwattul Islam Mosque which is the subject matter of a suit before a lower court in Saket.
A plea, pending before a Saket court, has prayed for restoration of Hindu and Jain deities inside the Qutub Minar complex on the ground that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutubuddin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohamad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.
In the early hearing application, the petitioner said the next date of hearing is almost six months later, and with each passing day, its rights were getting transgressed and devotees were looking forward to offering namaz in the Mughal Masjid on the occasion of ‘Shab-e-barat’ and then the holy month of Ramadan.
Responding to the Centre’s stand, the petitioner asserted that the mosque is not “protected”, is outside the fenced area and at a distance from the Quwwatul Islam Masjid.
“That the respondents have not denied or even disputed those documents and are, in a mischievous manner, trying to create an illusion that the subject matter of the present petition is ‘Quwwatul Islam Masjid’,” the rejoinder filed by the petitioner said.
The petitioner, in the rejoinder, said there is overwhelming evidence to prove that the mosque was under religious use and regular prayers were held there when the other structures in adjacent area were declared as centrally protected monuments.
In its reply, the ASI has said that allowing prayers at the Mughal mosque will “not only set an example but it may also impact other monuments too”.
It cautioned that the decision of the high court would “have a significant bearing/influence” on the matter before the Saket court.
“The instant matter is liable to be dismissed on the grounds that the Petitioners are misleading the Hon'ble Court by stating that the Mosque in question is not a Centrally Protected Monument,” the reply said.
“Qutub Minar is a Monument of National Importance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is submitted that it is not a place of worship, since the time of its protection the monument or any part of it, has not been used for any type of worship by any community. It is submitted that the Mosque in question comes within the boundary of Qutub Minar Complex,” added the reply.
The plea has sought restraining the authorities from "causing any obstruction or interference in the performance of 'namaz' at the mosque in question, that is, a waqf property notified as 'Masjid adjacent to Eastern Gate of Qutab Minar, Mehrauli’ in Delhi Administration’s Gazette Notification.
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