UP Sunni Wakf Board defends claim to Taj Mahal in apex court
The Board, which was asked earlier by the court to produce documentary evidence to show it owned the Taj Mahal, however, could not provide the same.india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 23:29 IST
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the continuous use of Taj Mahal for annual Muslim events vests the ownership rights of the iconic monument with it.
The Board, which was asked earlier by the court to produce documentary evidence to show it owned the Taj Mahal, however, could not provide the same.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared for the board before a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and defended the claim saying that even in Fatehpur Sikri, the mausoleum and mosque co-exist with the fort. While the fort is under the Archaeological Survey of India, the mausoleum and mosque are managed by the wakf board.
The bench told ASI to consider registering Taj Mahal in the board’s name, without ownership rights. It told ASI counsel, ADN Rao, to explore the possibility, despite a stiff opposition from him. The court fixed July 27 as the next date of hearing.
The bench is hearing ASI’s ap- peal against the Wakf Board Tribunal’s July 2005 decision ordering that the Taj be registered as the latter’s property. There is a stay on the order. Defending the board, Khurshid said just because the ASI is managing Taj Mahal does not mean it is the owner.
“Management and right to manage do not give it the title to ownership. Nobody owns it. Ownership is with the Almighty,” Khurshid remarked. The court was told that annual Urs and Ramzan events are held at the monument, which ASI permits.
Rao cautioned the bench from giving ownership to the board. “The plea cannot be entertained. Tomorrow someone will claim ownership of Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri. These types of claims will continue...,” he submitted.
When the CJI commented that the board should not complain if the ASI was permitting limited activities in the precincts of the monument, Khurshid responded: “It’s our right and not a concession from them.”
The CJI said “We can ask them (ASI) to continue with the facilities, but the moment you say right, then the problem arises.”