Mosque Row: Delhi HC Seeks ASI's Action-Taken Report

New Delhi
Mosque Row: Delhi HC Seeks ASI's Action-Taken Report
"The rule of law will be enforced, even if heavens fall," said the Delhi High Court today, while asking for ASI's action-taken-report on its order for removal of unauthorised construction built by area MLA and his supporters at a Metro rail project site near Red Fort where purported ruins of a Mughal-era mosque were found.

"The rule of law will be enforced, even if heavens fall let it fall," remarked a full bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to file the report by next Friday.

The bench, also comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher, was hearing two separate pleas of the police and the MLA to keep in abeyance its earlier order to demolish the structure.

The bench also asked the ASI to file a list of articles, collected from the site and handed over to it by the MCD.

"The ASI to file action-taken-report (ATR) along with the list of articles and also its proposed plan of action to proceed further," the bench said and made it clear that it would see the ASI's ATR before deciding the applications of police and Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal.

The bench had asked ASI on July 30 to demolish the structure within 15 days to ascertain if any Mughal-era mosque existed on the site.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 31.

During the course of hearing today, MLA Iqbal's counsel M M Kashyap said the MCD had handed over some articles including the holy Quran and some antiques to the ASI and added that the list of those articles should be submitted to the court.

The counsel also sought the court's direction for appointment of either a panel of experts or retired high court judge Rajinder Sachchar to supervise the work at the site saying "he has an apprehension that ASI would not investigate the issue in a transparent way."

The bench, however, asked him, "For what purpose you want a committee or a retired high court judge, when the ASI is already doing its task."

"How will a retired judge render assistance? Some useful purpose should be served," it added.

"The ASI is an expert technical body, let it perform its statutory duty," said the court, while assuring the MLA that "it would be very impartial investigation."

The ASI counsel too opposed Iqbal's demand for supervision of its work saying the ASI does not need any expert committee, as it has its own experts and a committee would also be constituted to assign the work.

The police had moved the court seeking deferment of its order to demolish the mosque on the grounds of apprehension of breach of peace and communal harmony.

Alternatively, it had sought the court's direction to Iqbal, who had raised the structure, to demolish it, saying "appropriate directions be issued to Shoiab Iqbal, MLA to remove unauthorised construction at the site of Subhash Park under the supervision of ASI."
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