The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the government’s right to issue notifications to preserve and protect archaeological sites.
It also upheld the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) order restraining construction of a 75 feet building near the centuries-old Jantar Mantar.
The apex court, however, also upheld part of the high court order which says that a ‘prohibited and regulated area’ should be measured from the outer boundary wall of a protected monument and not the structures within.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly set aside the Delhi High Court order that directed the Centre to review its 1992 notification and asked it to make some relaxations in the prohibition on a case-to-case basis.
As per the 1992 notification, no construction or repair was permitted within the prohibited area of a protected monument. The notification defined the area as 100 metres.
The same notification allowed only those buildings to be repaired that are within 200 metres of the protected monument.
Upholding the concept of coning the prohibited and regulated area, the SC noted that such steps were needed to protect ancient monuments facing threat of extinction. If the steps were not taken, such monuments “may become part of history”, it added.
The bench also lamented the dilapidated state of Jantar Mantar, of which some instruments have become unworkable. This is largely due to the construction of multi-storeyed structures around the monument.