Qutab Minar row: Existence of idols not in dispute, right to worship is, says court

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which protects the monument, too, told the court in its submission that the Qutab complex not a place of worship and any change in the existing structure is not permissible

FPJ BureauUpdated: Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 11:13 PM IST
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Qutub Minar | File Photo

NEW DELHI: An additional district court of Delhi on Tuesday reserved its order on a plea seeking to restore 27 Hindu and Jain temples inside the Qutub Minar complex.

During the hearing the court said that the existence of idols inside the complex was not in dispute. The issue was whether the plaintiffs have a right to worship, the court remarked, reports Bar and Bench.

Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, appearing for the plaintiffs, referred to article 25 of the Constitution. "There's denial of fundamental right (Article 25). A fundamental right is never lost," Jain submitted. "You mean that this is your fundamental right," the court queried. "Yes," replied Jain.

Jain had moved the Saket district court after a civil court rejected his plea on the ground that the suit was barred under the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

The civil judge had also observed that the wrongs of the past cannot be a basis for disturbing present-day peace and, if it is allowed, the fabric of the Constitution, its secular character will be damaged.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which protects the monument, too, told the court in its submission that the Qutab complex not a place of worship and any change in the existing structure is not permissible.

Even as Judge Nikhil Chopra allowed the parties to file brief synopsis, within a week, he wondered why the appellant had filed the legal suit.

“Now you want this monument to be turned into a temple and are calling for restoration of the deities; my question is how can you claim that the plaintiffs have a legal right, assuming it existed about 800 years back? On a lighter note, deity has survived for last 800 years without worship. Let him survive like that,” Judge Chopra observed.

He was reacting to Jain's plea to restore the deities and allow ‘pooja’ at the complex. "It is an admitted position that for the last 800 years, it wasn't used by the Muslims. When there is a temple plea, which was in existence much before the mosque, why can't it be restored," Jain submitted.

He referred to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Ayodhya temple case, to contend that once a deity is always a deity and, a temple, merely on being demolished, shall not lose its character, sanctity or dignity.

His claim is that the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, situated within the Qutub Minar complex, was built in the site of a temple complex comprising as many as 27 temples.

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