Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday offered Eid prayers at a mosque at the Safdarjung Tomb, a centrally protected monument.
Under the Archaeological Act, prayers at centrally protected monuments are not allowed unless the practice was prevalent at the time when it was notified as protected.
Safdarjung Tomb is one of the 174 Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments in Delhi.
Apart from the main mausoleum located right at the centre of the premises, the 1754-built Safdarjung Tomb has a mosque with three domes north of the main gate.
On Monday, the area was abuzz with activity since morning. Scores of devotees with young children and few burqa-clad women had gathered for Eid prayers.
The service lane outside the premises was packed with beggars hoping to get a good Idi (gift or money donated after offering Eid prayers).
Azad reached the venue – apparently unannounced – a few minutes before the 9 am prayer. He quickly joined the milling crowds waiting for the prayer call.
After the prayer was over, he was surrounded by large number of devotees, who greeted him on the festive occasion.
Despite repeated attempts by Hindustan Times through the day till late in the evening to reach the minister at his residence landline number, he remained unavailable for comments.
Incidentally, vice president Hamid Ansari had earlier planned to offer Eid prayers at the tomb. But the plan was cancelled at the 11th hour.
Spokesperson of Archaeological Survey of India BR Mani said: "We were unaware of Azad's arrival for the prayers. Prayers are not allowed at any protected monument if the practice was not prevalent at the time of protection notification."