The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday, May 24, submitted its reply on the Qutub Minar case to a Saket Court where it opposed the plea to revive the temple at the location. In response to an appeal preferred before the Saket District Court in Delhi seeking restoration of 27 temples that were allegedly destructed to construct the Qutub Minar complex, the Archaeological Survey of India has stated that the existing status of the monument cannot be altered. “It’s only recently these things are coming up,” ASI’s counsel said, noting that Qutub Minar was built years ago.
A hearing on the Qutub Minar case was held in Delhi’s Saket court today. The court has reserved the order and now the verdict will be pronounced on June 9. Delhi’s Saket Court has reserved its order on a petition seeking the right to worship the idols of Hindu deities kept in the Qutub Minar complex. Delhi’s Saket court will pronounce its order on June 9, which will make it clear whether the matter will be heard once again before the civil judge or not, as earlier the civil judge had initially rejected the petition seeking the right to worship. ASI further stated that a fundamental right to worship can’t be claimed with respect to the protected monument.
During the hearing in the Saket court on Tuesday itself, the counsel for the Hindus argued that the complex was built by demolishing 27 temples. This time it is clear and it is also mentioned there, that it is found on the campus. This point was also told in the lower court (civil judge) but he dismissed the case. The Hindus argued that we have demanded in the petition that all the idols of Gods and Goddesses there should be given the right to be worshipped. Also demanded the formation of a trust from the central government which would take care of these temples and idols. Because there is no doubt in this that this complex has been erected by demolishing the temples and when it has been proven then it should be restored.
While admitting that there are a number of sculptures existing within the Qutab Minar Complex, the statutory body has stated that since 1914, Qutub Minar is a protected monument under Section 3(3) of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904, and is maintained ‘in-situ’ is the same condition. Further stating that there is no provision under the AMSAR Act 1958, under which worship can be started at any living monument. As per the provision of the AMSAR Act, 1958 and Rules, 1959, any changes or alterations in the existing structure are not permissible so no decree of permanent injunction as offering prayers by the Plaintiff can be passed.
A controversy erupted after ASI’s ex-regional director Dharamveer Sharma claimed that the Qutub Minar was constructed by Raja Vikramaditya and not by Qutb al-Din Aibak, to study the direction of the sun. The Ministry of Culture had also asked the ASI to submit its excavation report. Excavation can be started in the south of the minaret at a distance of 15 meters from the mosque. The Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Govind Mohan, took the decisions during a site visit with officials on Saturday, May 21.
The ASI said the plea by the Hindu petitioners is legally not maintainable. “The destruction of old temples to build the Qutub Minar complex is a matter of historical fact. The Qutub Minar complex is a living monument that has been protected since 1914. No one has the right to worship on the complex.”
Earlier this month, activists from the Mahakal Manav Sewa were seen staging a protest, holding placards and raising slogans, amid heavy police deployment at the Qutb Minar, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. They demanded that the iconic monument be renamed ‘Vishnu Stambh’.
“Past wrongs cannot be the basis for disturbing the peace of our present and future,” Civil Judge Neha Sharma of the Saket Court had dismissed the suit in December 2021. The present plea before the additional district judge has challenged that order.
The petition has sought the restoration of the ‘temple complex’ allegedly comprising as many as 27 temples.