New Delhi: The Archaeological Survey of India today told the Delhi High Court that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured the Shahi Imam of the Mughal-era Jama Masjid here that it would not be declared as a protected monument.
The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, who were also informed that as “Jama Masjid is not centrally-protected monument it does not come within the purview of the ASI”.
“In 2004, the issue of notifying the Jama Masjid as a centrally-protected monument was raised. However, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured Shahi Imam, vide his October 20, 2004 letter that the Jama Masjid would not be declared as centrally-protected monument,” the ASI said in its counter affidavit.
The ASI filed the counter on PILs that sought directions to the authorities to declare the mosque a protected monument and remove all encroachments in and around it.
The PILs filed by Suhail Ahmed Khan, Ajay Gautam and advocate V K Anand said Jama Masjid is a property of Delhi Wakf Board and Syed Ahmed Bukhari as its employee cannot appoint his son as Naib Imam (deputy Imam).
It had demanded a CBI probe into the mosque’s management.
ASI also said, “It is evident that successive Shahi Imams of the Jama Masjid have been seeking help from ASI for carrying out conservation work in acknowledgment of ASI being an expert body in this regard. Insofar as funds are concerned, the same were allocated by the ministry of culture, government of India and the same have not been provided either by Shahi Imam or the Wakf Board.