Produce documents signed by Emperor Shah Jahan to claim rights, says SC

New Delhi: The UP Sunni Waqf Board was asked to produce documents bearing Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s signature to prove their claim over Taj Mahal’s ownership said the Apex Court on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court gave a week time to produce the signatures of emperor Shah Jahan in order to claim their ownership on Taj Mahal.

Emperor Shah Jahan reportedly died under house arrest in Agra’s fort.

The Archaeological Survey of India had moved the Supreme Court in 2010 seeking stay on Waqf Board’s 2005 decision ordering Taj Mahal be registered under Waqf Board, news18.

The CJI who was hearing the bench asked the Waqf Board, “Who in India will believe that the Taj belongs to the waqf board? How did Shah Jahan sign the waqfnama? When was it given to you?”

Senior Advocate VV Giri appearing for Waqf Board claimed that the monument belonged to the Waqf since Shah Jahan’s time. The ASI argued the Waqf’s claim in the court.

Tracing the history of the monument, advocate AND Rao appearing for ASI said, “there was no existence of waqfnama at that time”.

“Under the 1858 proclamation, the properties taken over from the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the British vested with the Queen. By the 1948 Act, the buildings were taken over by the Indian government,” advocate Rao added.

The three-member bench of CJI and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud were hearing the petition of Waqf Board. The Justices reminded the board that the monument was passed on to the East India Company after the downfall of Mughal Dynasty in India in the 17th century and was vested to the ASI after India got independence.

“Shah Jahan used to view the Taj Mahal from his cell in Agra Fort where he was sent to serve house arrest by his son Aurangazeb. How did he sign the waqfnama while in custody? Show us the documents signed by the emperor,” said CJI Misra.

The claims over Taj Mahal’s owner ship were first initiated in the court when a UP resident moved the Allahabad High Court seeking the court to grant him Taj Mahal’s caretaker since he was a Mughal descendent.

However, the Allahabad High Court refused to intervene in the matter and asked him to approach the Waqf board instead.