Qutub Minar row: Delhi court defers order on plea for temple restoration within complex

While hearing the matter pertaining to worshipping rights within the complex of Qutub Minar for Hindus and Jains, a Delhi court deferred its pronouncement of order on an appeal. Notably, the case was deferred until August 24 when the court learnt that a new application had been submitted in the case. It is important to mention here that the court had earlier decided to pronounce the order pertaining to appeal for the restoration of 27 Hindu and Jain temples in the Qutub Minar complex on June 9. 

The Additional District Judge Dinesh Kumar on June 9 said that it will hear/decide on the fresh application first. The court noted that Kunwar Mahender Dhwaj Pratap Singh, claiming to be an heir of the United Provinces of Agra, had filed an impleadment suit stating that the Qutub Minar belonged to him and that the minaret, together with the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, should be granted to him. He was represented by ML Sharma, an attorney. Notably, both the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Plaintiffs’ counsel have said that they oppose the Impleadment application.

Petitioner alleges that temples were demolished to build Quwwat-ul-Islam within the Qutub Minar complex

The main appellant in the matter claimed that Quwwat-ul-Islam was built on the very spot where temples existed. The appellant further added that the mosque was built after destroying 27 temples. Advocate Jain, who appeared for the petitioner, argued by reading Section 16 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR Act) and said, “A protected monument maintained by the Central Government under this Act which is a place of worship or shrine shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character.”

“The suit was filed to preserve and protect the religious and cultural heritage of India and to exercise the right to religion guaranteed by Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India by restoring 27 Hindu and Jain temples with respective deities which were dismantled, desecrated and damaged under the command and orders of Qutub-Din-Aibak, a commander of invader Mohammad Ghori, who established slave dynasty and raised some construction at the same very place of temples naming it as, Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque,” the suit said.

ASI opposes plea seeking restoration of 27 temples within Qutub Minar complex

The Qutub Minar complex is a protected monument under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, according to ASI’s counter-affidavit. It claimed that replacing and altering the existing structure would be a breach of the AMASR Act because no construction or renovation is allowed within 100 metres of a protected monument. Furthermore, it cited a Delhi High Court ruling dated January 27, 1999, which said that no religious observance is permissible inside a protected monument.

ASI further added, “It is a fact that architectural members and images of Hindu and Jain deities are re-used in the construction of the Qutub complex. This is very clear from the inscription in the complex which is open to public viewing. The Persian inscription at the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque clearly states that the cloisters were erected with carved columns and other architectural members from 27 temples.” Despite the fact that the complex includes representations of Lord Ganesh and that a vast number of Hindus worship him, the ASI made it plain that worship cannot begin at a living monument.

Image: ANI

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