By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court, alleging two residential structures around the tomb of Mughal nobleman, Hindi-Persian poet and one of ‘Navratan’ of Emperor Akbar’s court, Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan, breach conservation norms.
The petitioner claims the relevant provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, have been violated by two residential buildings allegedly located less than 100 metres from the physical structure of the 16th century mausoleum in Nizamuddin East, close to the shrine of Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin and Humayun’s Tomb.
The petition was moved by a lawyer challenging the Delhi High Court order, dismissing his plea to lay down the law with regards to the rampant construction in Delhi, in the vicinity of protected monuments, especially in violation of Section 20A of the 1958 Act.
“Section 20A of the 1958 Act makes it clear that there cannot be any construction around 100 metres in all directions of a protected monument like this tomb, as re-development in the vicinity threatens the protected monument, which has significant cultural heritage,” said Sunil Fernandes, counsel for the petitioner, who claims to have no personal interest in the matter.
Fernandes argued before a bench comprising Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Ajay Rastogi that the matter should be contextualised in the light preserving the precious historical and cultural heritage of the country, and the tomb is in the category of an endangered monument.
He cited the apex court judgement in a case of Archeological Survey of India vs Narender Anand, 2012, which questioned the validity of the construction at Janpath Lane in Connaught Place, located within 100 metres of Jantar Mantar, a protected monument.
After hearing the initial arguments, the top court appointed senior advocate Shyam Divan as amicus curiae on the matter.
Fernandes said according to the 2012 judgement, there cannot be any construction for 100 metres beginning from the limit of the protected monument, which is interpreted as the boundary wall, and extending in all directions.
“The (residential) premises are within the 100 metres of the tomb. The public authorities, including the Archaeological Survey of India, have misinterpreted Section 20A to mean that 100 metre has to be calculated from the physical structure of the protected monument and not from the outer boundary wall.”
The petition seeks a law on the legitimate distance for re-development or construction of new structures in the vicinity of protected monument, which embodies shared history of the country.
An outstanding general and statesman under Emperors Akbar and Jahangir, Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan (1556-1627) is more remembered as a poet in both Persian and Braj Bhasha.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])