Court seeks action ASI report over mosque


New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to file a report over the removal of illegal construction at the site of a purported mosque excavated near the historic Jama Masjid here.

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Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdher also asked ASI to file a list of articles collected from the disputed land which the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had handed over to ASI.

“ASI to file action taken report in a sealed cover along with the list of articles,” said the bench. The next hearing will be on Aug 31.

The court direction came after the advocate of legislator Shoaib Iqbal said the MCD handed over some articles including a Quran and some antiques to ASI, and that a list of those articles should be produced.

The counsel asked the court to appoint a committee of experts or a retired high court judge to supervise the case and file the report after supervising the issue.

Iqbal told the court he feared the ASI would not investigate the issue in transparent way.

The bench assured him that ASI was a body of experts and its investigation will be impartial.

“For what purpose do you want a committee or retired high court judge to look into the matter when ASI is already doing its task,” the court asked.

“ASI is the only technical body to examine the issue and common people like us cannot do investigation. ASI is a statutory body, you should have faith in the ASI. You should have faith in the court. ASI will work with transparency,” the court said.

ASI’s counsel opposed Iqbal’s demand of seeking a committee to supervise the case, saying that ASI has its own experts. The counsel said: “Before I start work I cannot be doubted.”

The court, however, also said that “even if heaven falls, the rule of law will be enforced,” while hearing applications of Iqbal and police seeking modification of the order passed by the court July 30.

The police had urged the court to tell Iqbal to demolish a structure raised by him at the site.

Iqbal moved the court seeking to restrain the ASI against taking any ‘coercive’ action against the existing structure.

The court July 30 asked the ASI and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to remove the structure, and instructed police to provide protection to the demolition team.

The construction had come up over the ruins of another structure believed to be from the Mughal era. It had surfaced during the digging work for a Delhi Metro station.

The court handed over the site to the ASI to ascertain if the ruins were indeed the remains of the Akbarabadi mosque from the Mughal era.