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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Crowded courtroom stalls counsel, UP asks SC to recall Taj parking lot raze order

The Supreme Court has ordered demolition of the parking lot being constructed without its consent near the Taj Mahal.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2017 18:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The parking lot near the Taj Mahal. (HT Photo)
The parking lot near the Taj Mahal. (HT Photo)

A crowded courtroom is common, but a counsel failing to negotiate his way through the throng to present his case to the judges is rare.

This particular rarity put the Uttar Pradesh government in a spot on Tuesday when the Supreme Court ordered demolition of parking lot being constructed without its consent near the Taj Mahal, a protected world heritage site.

The government requested the top court on Wednesday to recall its order, saying the state’s counsel couldn’t move through the crowd in the courtroom and stand before the bench to argue his case.

The bench led by Justice J Chelameswar approved UP additional advocate general Aishwarya Bhati’s request and listed the case for hearing on Friday.

Bhati countered allegations that no approvals were taken before initiating construction of the parking lot outside the Taj Mahal, visited by millions from around the globe.

She insisted the court should re-examine its order.

A bench led by Justice MB Lokur instructed the Agra commissioner on Wednesday to demolish the parking lot near the monument’s east gate, after being informed that the court’s permission was not taken to cut trees to make space for the facility.

Trees cannot be cut without the top court’s approval and no construction is allowed within 500 metres of the 17th century white marble monument built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan for queen Mumtaj.

Advocate ADN Rao, representing the Archaeological Survey of India, contended that construction started before the UP government applied for permission to cut 15 trees at the site.

The state applied for permission last November but the ASI found during an inspection that construction had already begun, pending the court’s approval.

The government apologised to the court for “any activity” that may have damaged the protected zone and promised to stay away from any activity detrimental to one of the world’s seven wonders.

The parking lot is part of the Taj orientation centre the state government proposes to develop in the area. World-class facilities would be provided at the centre for foreign tourists and VIPs visiting the Taj Mahal.

According to a UP government affidavit, the parking lot falls outside the 500-metre ceiling.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 18:57 IST

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