On Thursday, Additional District Judge Dinesh Kumar of the Delhi Court, who was scheduled to deliver a verdict in the case today, deferred it after noting that a new application had been filed by a Delhi resident claiming ownership of the property where the Minar is located.
The court was hearing a case seeking the restoration of Hindu and Jain temples at the capital’s Qutub Minar complex.
Advocate ML Sharma argued on behalf of one Kunwar Mahendra Dhwaj Prasad Singh that Singh is the rightful owner of the Qutub Minar property and that the minaret, as well as Quwwat-ul-Islam inside the complex mosque, should be returned to him.
The Court asked the ASI and the contesting parties to file a response to this application and scheduled a hearing on August 24.
The District Judge’s order was challenged in December 2021 by civil judge Neha Sharma, who dismissed the suit seeking the restoration of 27 Hindu and Jain temples in Delhi’s Qutub Minar complex.
The suit brought on behalf of gods Lord Vishnu and Lord Rishabh Dev have sought the restoration of deities within the complex as well as the right to perform puja and darshan of the deities through their next-of-kin advocates Hari Shankar Jain and Ranjana Agnihotri.
According to the lawsuit, the Quwwat-Ul-Islam mosque, which was designated as a protected monument under Section 3 of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, was built after the temples were destroyed.
The civil judge’s order stated that past wrongs cannot be used to disturb our present and future peace.
It had held that ancient and historical monuments could not be used for a purpose that contradicted their nature as religious places of worship, but could always be used for something else that was not incompatible with their religious character.
The order issued in December 2021 stated that once a monument is designated as a protected monument and is owned by the government, the plaintiffs cannot insist that the place of worship be actively used for religious services.
Advocate Hari Shankar Jain represented the plaintiff in the appeal and argued that the petitioners had been denied fundamental rights (under Article 25).
He was referring to an iron pillar in the centre of the monument with Sanskrit shlokas or verses inscribed on it.
When asked which right was being invoked to seek such a prayer, Jain replied that once a property belonged to a deity, it always remained deity property.
“Once deity property, always deity property. It is never lost. After demolition, temple won’t lose divinity, sanctity. If deity survives, right to worship survives,”Jain replied
In an earlier affidavit, the ASI informed the Court that architectural components and images of Hindu and Jain deities were utilised in the construction of the Qutub Minar complex.
It further maintained that the same cannot be used to assert the right to worship at monuments protected by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958. (AMASR Act).
Advocate SC Gupta, who represented the ASI, emphasised that there was no cause to interfere with the challenged order. He referenced a Delhi High Court ruling that stated that the character locked in that monument could not be modified under the AMASR Act.
Characters of the place where allowed or not allowed for worship is governed by the day it comes under protection. It is for this reason we have monuments for places of worship and not places for worship,” the Counsel for ASI contended
He stressed that the fundamental right under Article 25 was not a constitutionally guaranteed absolute right.