Delhi High Court seeks reply from Centre, ASI on plea alleging stopping of prayers at mosque near Qutub Complex

THE Delhi High Court Thursday granted time to the Centre and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to respond to a petition challenging the alleged stopping of prayers at a mosque situated adjacent to the eastern gate of Qutub Minar in South Delhi.

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri listed the case for hearing on July 25, after the counsel representing the Centre and ASI sought time to seek instructions. Advocate M Sufian Siddiqui, representing the management committee of the mosque, earlier told the court that the mosque is a notified Waqf property and that ASI officials suddenly stopped offering of prayers at the mosque in May.

The Mughal Mosque is situated at the entrance of the Qutub Complex and is different from the nearby Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. According to the petition filed before the court, the mosque in question is not a notified-protected monument and has never been closed for worship before.

“On the contrary, there are visible signs of a live mosque, viz, chamber/Hujra of Imam, a duly appointed Imam, a duly appointed Moazzin, place of ablution with taps and water supply, toilet with water supply, a drainage system, rows of prayer mats and provision to secure the entire premises through doors,” the management has said in the petition.

Stating that there is overwhelming evidence to prove that regular prayers were held at the mosque even when other structures in adjacent areas were declared as centrally protected monuments, the petition states that there has been no disruption of law and order in connection with the holding of prayers at the mosque.

“The denial of opportunity to Muslims to offer namaz in the instant mosque is contrary to the ideal of embracing the other which is an elevating feature of our ancient civilisation and modern nation,” reads the petition, adding that unfortunately “muscular approach” was being employed in the name of religion in India “to subdue others and impose uniformity”.

The petition contends that the ASI has got no authority in law to even regulate the gathering of worshippers at the mosque in question.

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