Mosque Row: Excavation Not Yet Started, ASI Tells HC
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 The Archaeological Survey of India today told the Delhi High Court that it has not yet started excavation on a site near Red Fort to ascertain whether remains of a Mughal-era mosque existed there in view of lack of clarity on an apex court order on status quo.

"The excavation of the site, as directed by the high court, has not been undertaken following the Supreme Court order to maintain status quo," the counsel for ASI told a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

The ASI informed the court that it has moved an application in the apex court seeking clarification of the order asking authorities to maintain status quo at a place inside Subhash Park here where local MLA Shoaib Iqbal and his supporters allegedly trespassed and built a mosque claiming that remnants of Akbarabadi masjid were found there during Metro construction work.

The court, meanwhile, disposed of a plea seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against Delhi Police Commissioner for allegedly making contradictory statements in the Supreme Court and in the High Court on providing security to lawmaker Iqbal.

It also directed the Union Home Ministry to "assess" the alleged security threat to a petitioner in the case with 10 days.

North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), which owns the park in the walled city area where DMRC was conducting the excavation relating to a metro project, also cited the apex court order on the issue.

Earlier, Iqbal had moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order asking MCD to demolish the illegal structure with the help of police to facilitate a probe by ASI of the ruins of a mosque allegedly found during the excavation work undertaken by DMRC. The court ordered staus quo at the site on his plea.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Delhi police, said that the matter be kept at abeyance as the Supreme Court is seized with it.

"We are also awaiting the Supreme Court order. We don't believe in adjourning the matter sine die (adjourning the case without fixing a future date of hearing) as the matter goes out of sight. We will fix it after the date of hearing in the Supreme Court," the bench, also comprising justices Rajiv Shakdher and M L Mehta, said. (More)

Earlier, the high court had taken suo motu cognisance of alleged construction of the structure at Subhash Park near Red Fort and had asked the ASI and the NDMC on July 30 to demolish it within 15 days to ascertain if any Mughal-era mosque existed on the site.

The court today disposed of a plea of S S Sai Baba Omjee, a petitioner in the case, seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against Delhi Police Commissioner for allegedly making contradictory statements in the Supreme Court and in the High Court on providing security to Iqbal.

"He was earlier provided security as he was the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and later, it was withdrawn. He has misused his security cover and it has been found by the Special Cell of police...," the ASG said.

The court then asked the ASG as to where a police picket has been established recently in the area.

The police picket is established at least "ten meters" away from the house of Iqbal and it is meant to ensure law and order in the area and has nothing to do with his security, the ASG said.

Omjee had alleged that the police, which made a statement that it did not provide any security to Iqbal, in fact, constructed a police picket outside his house.

On the issue of alleged security threats to Omjee, the court considered the submission of the ASG that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) may "assess" the situation as has been done in Iqbal's case.

The court asked the MHA to conduct the exercise within 10 days and noted the submission of Omjee that he was willing to bear the cost to be incurred on his security.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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