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Qutub Minar row: Temple cannot be revived at protected monument site, ASI tells Delhi court

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has told a District Court in Delhi that no temple can be revived within the Qutab Minar Complex in Delhi’s Mehrauli area.

“The revival of worship cannot be allowed at a monument where such a practice was not prevalent at the time of it being granted the “protected” status,” the ASI told the Court.

While admitting that there are a number of sculptures existing within the Complex, the statutory body has stated that since 1914, Qutub Minar monument is a protected monument under Section 3(3) of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 and it is being maintained ‘in-situ’ is the same condition.

In response to a petition filed before a District Court in Delhi seeking restoration of 27 temples that were allegedly destructed to construct the Qutub Minar complex, the ASI stated that the existing status of the monument cannot be altered.

There is no provision under AMASR Act 1958 under which Worship can be started at any living monument, the ASI added. Thus, no decree of permanent injunction as prayed by the Plaintiffs can be passed because as per the provisions per the provisions of AMASR Act, 1958 and Rules, 1959, changing and alteration of the existing structure is not permissible.

The appeal suit before the Saket Court claims that the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid situated within the Qutub Minar complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex. The suit, filed on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev and Hindu deity Lord Vishnu (through their next of friends), seeks restoration of the alleged temple complex, comprising as many as 27 temples.

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