Giving a slew of directions, the Delhi High Court on Monday permitted the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to demolish “illegal constructions” at a site near Jama Masjid to ascertain whether remains of a Mughal-era structure existed. The court also directed the police to take legal action against “miscreants” who had damaged public property despite its restraint order on July 20.
In an interim order, a full bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri asked the ASI to implement its July 19 notice. The ASI had asked the North Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove the “illegal constructions” as it fell within the regulated area of centrally protected monuments of Red Fort and Sunehri Masjid.
“The stand of the ASI is unequivocally reflected in its notice dated July 19, 2012 with which MCD (now NDMC) is in agreement. The two concerned authorities with the assistance of police should implement the statutory mandate without fail,” the bench, also comprising the justices S K Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher, said.
In its notice, the ASI asked the NDMC to remove the said unauthorized construction within 15 days of the receipt of this notice failing which the same will be removed at your cost,” the notice also said. NDMC was given 15 days time to remove the unauthorised construction.
“As per the provision of Section 20B of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation)Act, every area beginning at the protected limits of the concerned centrally protected monument and existing upto a distance of 100 meters in all directions shall be prohibited area for the purpose of construction and mining…. The bench asked ASI to submit its first report in a sealed cover by October 11. Taking cognisance of the allegation that at the instance of local MLA, a structure was built illeally near the historical monument, the bench had stayed further construction of the structure at the site.