Agra :That is a tall order. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board, which is battling the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for ownership of Taj Mahal, was asked by the Supreme Court to produce documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to prove its claim over the monument.
The board has a week to produce the signatures of the emperor who died in 1666, almost 18 years after the monument he built in the memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, was completed.
Hearing a 2010 appeal filed by the ASI, the court directed the board to produce documents in support of its claim that none other than Shah Jahan declared the Taj a wakf property.
“Who in India will believe it belongs to the wakf board? These kind of issues must not waste the time of the Supreme Court,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told the board.
Wakf is an endowment of land or property by a Muslim for a religious, educational or charitable purpose.
In 2010, the ASI had petitioned the court against the wakf board’s July 2005 decision ordering that the Taj be registered as the latter’s property. There is a stay on the order.
Appearing for the board, senior advocate VV Giri said Shah Jahan executed a wakfnama in favour of the board, a submission challenged by ASI. “Then you show us the original deed executed by Shah Jahan. Show us the signature,”?the bench shot back, granting a week’s time on Giri’s request.
CJI Misra, however, had a few questions for the board.
“How did he (Shah Jahan) sign the wakfnama? He was in jail and used to view the monument while in custody,” the country’s top judge said.
Shah Jahan died in the Agra fort where he was put under house arrest by son Aurangzeb in July 1658 following a bitter war of succession.
The bench also reminded the board that the 17th century monument and other heritage structures built by the Mughals passed on to the British after the end of the Mughal rule. After Independence, the monuments vested with the government and were being managed by ASI.
ASI advocate ADN Rao said there was no wakfnama. “Under the 1858 proclamation, the properties taken over from the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the British vested with the Queen. By the 1948 act, the buildings were taken over by the Indian government,” he said.
The board had in July 2005 given the order on a petition filed by one Mohammad Irfan Bedar. Bedar had moved the Allahabad high court because the board delayed its decision on the petition he filed in 1998. It was on the high court’s order that the board looked at his petition and claimed ownership of the Taj.
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.