'Wrongs of Past Can't Be Basis for Disturbing Present Peace': Delhi Court Rejects Plea to Restore Temples inside QutubMinar Complex

Team SoOLEGAL 10 Dec 2021 4:11pm

'Wrongs of Past Can't Be Basis for Disturbing Present Peace': Delhi Court Rejects Plea to Restore Temples inside QutubMinar Complex

NEW DELHI: A civil suit filed on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev and Hindu deity Lord Vishnu alleging that the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid located within the QutubMinar Complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex and seeking restoration of the temple complex, which included as many as 27 temples, was rejected by a Delhi Court.

The Court noted that the suit was barred by the Places of Worship Act 1991 and dismissed the plaint under Order 7 Rule 11(a) of the Civil Procedure Code for failure to disclose the cause of action.

The plaint alleged that in 1198, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Qutub-Din-Aibak, approximately 27 Hindu and Jain temples were desecrated and damaged, prompting the construction of the aforementioned Mosque in their place.

While dismissing the complaint, the Court stated that the wrongs of the past cannot be used to disturb the current peace.

"India had a culturally rich history. It has been ruled over by numerous dynasties. During arguments, the Ld. Counsel for plaintiff has vehemently argued on the point of national shame. However, nobody has denied that wrongs were committed in the past but such wrongs cannot be the basis for disturbing peace of our present and future," Civil Judge Neha Sharma observed.

According to the complaint, QutubdinAibak, a commander of Mohammed Gauri, demolished the Vishnu Hari Temple and 27 Jain and Hindu temples, along with their respective deities, and raised some inner constructions within the temple complex.

The temple complex is now known as the 'Quwwat­Ul Islam Mosque'. In dealing with the case, the Court stated that once a monument has been declared by the government to be protected, the plaintiffs cannot insist that it be used for other purposes.

“Hence, such ancient and historical monument cannot be used for some purpose which runs counter to its nature as a religious place of worship, but it can always be used for some other purpose which is not inconsistent with its religious character. Hence, in my considered opinion, once a monument has been declared to be a protected monument and is owned by the Government, then the plaintiffs cannot insist that the place of worship must actually and actively be used for religious services," the Court observed.

The Court further stated that every effort should be taken to enforce the goal of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, and that its purpose was to protect the nation's secular character.

"Our country had a rich history and has seen challenging times. Nevertheless, history has to be accepted as a whole. Can the good be retained and bad be deleted from our history? Thus, harmonious interpretation of both the statutes is required to give full force to the objective behind the Places of Worship Act, 1991. Hence, as per the provisions of the act, the ownership lies with the Government and the plaintiffs have no right to claim restoration and right to religious worship in the same without challenging the notification itself," it said.

The Court Further Said:

"It is an admitted fact that the suit property is a mosque built over temples and is not being used for any religious purpose, no prayers/namaz is being offered in the suit property. Hence, in my considered opinion, plaintiffs do not have an absolute right to restoration and worship in the suit property as public order which is an exception to Article 25 and 26 requires that status quo be maintained and protected monument be used for no religious purpose".

The plaintiffs relied on Section 16 of the Archaeological Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, which allows for the continuation of religious worship that is compatible with the nature of the building.However, the Court ruled that this requirement must be interpreted in accordance with the Places of Worship Act of 1991.

"The contention of the plaintiffs that section 4(3)(a) of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 excludes an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site or remains covered by the AMASR Act and hence, the present suit is not barred under the Places of Worship Act, 1991 would, in my opinion, frustrate the purpose of the act itself", the Court noted.

The Court also cited sections of the Supreme Court's Ayodhya Verdict, which supported the constitutionality of the Places of Worship Act.

Tagged: QutubMinar Complex   Delhi Court   Jain deity   Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev   Hindu deity   Lord Vishnu   Mehrauli   Worship Act 1991   Civil Procedure Code   Civil Judge   Neha Sharma  
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