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ASI files petition challenging Wakf board's declaration on Taj
August 12, 2005 13:48 IST
Last Updated: August 12, 2005 19:43 IST
The Archaeological Survey of India has appealed to the Supreme Court on Friday to overturn a lower court decision that could give control of the Taj Mahal to the Sunni Waqf Board, a news report said.
The ASI has been responsible for the upkeep of the 17th-century monument to love since 1920, when India was under British rule, and the case could help decide unanswered questions about who legally owns some of the country's centuries-old religious monuments.
The ASI on Friday filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging a lower court decision that -- at least on paper -- handed ownership of the Taj to the Sunni Waqf Board, a semiofficial organisation that manages Muslim graves and mosques in India, PTI reported.
But the ASI still controls the Taj, despite the decisions of the state court and Sunni board, and decided to go the Supreme Court to clear up the controversy, PTI reported.
The Taj Mahal, built by Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, houses the graves of the Muslim emperor, his wife and other Moghul royalty.
The controversy erupted after a Muslim citizen filed a case in the Uttar Pradesh high court, where the white-marble structure is located, saying Muslims should manage the Taj, not the government.
The court then referred the case to the Sunni board, which turned around and decided that it owned the Taj. The organisation demanded 7% of annual gate receipts from the hundreds of thousands of tourists who pay to see it every year. The board also said it must have a say in how the rest of the money earned from tourists is used.
The Taj Mahal, designated by the United Nations as a world heritage monument, is located in the northern city of Agra, about 210 km east of New Delhi.