A Delhi court on Tuesday observed that the deity at the Qutub Minar Complex has survived for 800 years without any worship, and "let it survive in that way".
The oral remark of Additional District Judge Nikhil Chopra of Saket Court was during the hearing of an appeal challenging the rejection of a suit alleging that the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid situated within the Qutub Minar complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex.
The appellant alleged that 27 Hindu and Jain temples were desecrated and damaged in 1198 under the rule of Slave Dynasty Emperor Qutub-Din-Aibak raising the construction of the said mosque in place of those temples, seeking restoration of the worship place.
During the course of the hearing, petitioner's counsel, advocate Harishankar Jain argued that if the deity survives, the right to worship also survives.
However, the court orally remarked: "The right to worship can be restricted over public order."
"On a lighter side, the deity has survived for last 800 years. Let it survive!" the judge said.
On the other hand, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) submitted: "The basic principle of protection/conservation is not to allow starting of any new practice in a monument declared and notified as a protected one under the Act. Revival of worship is not allowed wherever it is not practiced at the time of protection of a monument."
"It will be contrary to the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act) to agree to the contention of the Respondents or any other person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this centrally protected monument," read the affidavit filed by ASI.
During the course of the hearing, the ASI's counsel submitted that the apprehensions of the appellant were misplaced as the agency was not contemplating any removal or shifting of the idols as of now. Shifting of the idols would involve various permissions from different agencies, and have national implications as it would amount to a policy decision, counsel clarified.