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'Heir of ex-Qutub plot owner' moves court, to be heard on Sep 17

Source: PTI
September 13, 2022 19:04 IST
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A court in New Delhi on Tuesday reserved its order on an intervention application claiming the intervenor was a "necessary party" to an appeal seeking restoration of Hindu and Jain deities in an alleged temple complex inside the Qutub Minar.

The court was hearing arguments of applicant Kunwar Mahender Dhwaj Pratap Singh, who has claimed he was an heir of the erstwhile ruler of the 'United Province of Agra' and the owner of land parcels in several cities in and around Delhi, including the property of Qutub Minar.

”Heard arguments. To be listed for order on September 17, 2022, at 4 pm,” additional district judge Dinesh Kumar said.

 

M L Sharma, the counsel for Singh, claimed the applicant was the heir of the erstwhile ruler of the United Province of Agra who ruled the region since the 16th century. The ruling family owned the territory between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, he said.

Sharma alleged the government had encroached upon the entire area and three petitions regarding the matter were pending in the high court of Allahabad. Singh also made representations to the prime minister, the President and the authorities concerned to settle the ”constitutional dispute", the counsel claimed.

Without any merger, treaty or instrument of accession, or paying compensation, the government took over the intervenor's land which has been encroached upon by crores of people on behalf of the government, the counsel claimed.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said Singh had no locus standi in the case and the claim of ownership had lapsed by the principle of delay and laches. The doctrine says courts will not help people who sleep over their rights.

Noting that at the present stage of the trial the court cannot decide on the veracity of the claims made in the petition, the judge asked even if they were held to be true, how was Singh a necessary party in the case?

”The law is settled (on this aspect). You have to show yourself as a lawful or necessary party,” the judge said.

”The government might be the encroacher, but you have to get your right settled through (a separate) court,” the judge said, adding, “This court cannot decide the question of ownership of land.”

At the last hearing on August 24, the ASI had opposed the plea, saying the intervention petition was ”baseless and devoid of any logical or legal reasoning".

Before the petition was filed, the court had reserved the order on the appeal against a trial court order, dismissing the suit filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, claiming that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutbudin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohammad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.

Besides the restoration of deities within the alleged temple complex, the original suit had also sought issuance of directions to the central government for framing a scheme of administration and creating a trust to maintain the property, for worship and conduct of puja.

Civil judge Neha Sharma had rejected the suit in December 2021, saying as per the provisions of law and the relevant government notification, the ownership of the property was with the government, and the plaintiffs did not have any right to claim restoration and right to religious worship.

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