New Delhi: A renowned archaeologist of the British era who was entrusted with surveying of all ancient monuments of Delhi, inspectged the 17th century Jama Masjid in 1911 and decided against declaring it a protected monument, the Delhi High Court was informed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw was told by the ASI that as Jama Masjid was not a protected monument, it does not come within its purview.
"Syed Jaffar Hassan, the renowned archaeologist of the British era who was entrusted with the task of survey of all ancient monuments of Delhi and to make recommendations as to whether a particular monument is required to be declared as protected or not, surveyed Jama Masjid also in 1911 and concluded that this Masjid, despite being ancient and of historic importance, need not to be notified as centrally protected monument," said an affidavit submitted by the ASI.
It also said then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2004 had "assured" the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid that the Mughal-era mosque would not be declared a protected monument.
During the hearing, the bench slammed government agencies for not filing their responses despite repeated orders on a bunch of petitions which sought directions to the authorities to declare the mosque a protected monument and remove all encroachments in and around it.
The court asked the Delhi government, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Waqf Board, and Jama Masjid's Shahi Imam to file their response by August 12.
One of the petitioners, Suhail Ahmed Khan, while demanding that the mosque be declared a protected monument, pointed out that while the Red Fort had been declared a protected monument in 2007, the mosque did not figure even in the tentative list submitted to Unesco for declaration as a World Heritage Site.