Illegal mosque hearing drowned out by crowd

Irked by too many people, HC adjourns days sitting

Irked by the presence of a large crowd in the courtroom, the Delhi High Court on Friday directed that only a restricted number of people may be present during hearing on alleged illegal construction by a local MLA and his supporters near Red Fort, where purported ruins of a Mughal-era mosque were found.

“We have to abruptly adjourn the matter because of presence of a large number of people in the court, which was creating disturbance. We feel that hearing cannot take place in such an atmosphere in a matter like this. There is no need of such a large gathering,” a full bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri said. He deferred the matter to September 7.

The court directed that only the counsel appearing for parties or the petitioners appearing in person, apart from accredited journalists, will be allowed to hear the court proceedings on the next date of hearing.

Directing the registrar general of the High Court, the bench said, “Presence of a large number of people in the court was creating disturbance in the smooth functioning of the proceedings. It has created an atmosphere of indiscipline and is affecting the court’s decorum.”

The HC was hearing a plea seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against MCD, ASI and police officials for non-compliance of the court’s July 30 order to demolish the structure “illegally” erected on public land in Subhash Park near Red Fort Metro station.

The court was hearing arguments of senior advocate K T S Tulsi, who represented Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal, on his plea to allow people to offer namaz at the disputed site till the pendency of the case.

He referred to the Babri Masjid case and submitted that even the Supreme Court had permitted people to offer prayers in a makeshift temple of the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The bench, however, said this is a different case and cannot be compared with the Ayodhya case.

During the arguments, some lawyers intervened and started making their submissions, but the bench asked them to maintain discipline and allow the court to hear arguments of the parties.

However, the lawyers did not relent. During the proceeding, the city police through an application urged the court to modify its previous order to demolish the structure on the grounds of apprehension of breach of peace and communal harmony.

It also sought the court’s direction to Iqbal, who had raised the structure, to demolish it, saying, “Appropriate directions be issued to Shoiab Iqbal to remove unauthorised construction from the site of Subhash Park under the supervision of ASI”.

The counsel for Archaeological Survey of India submitted the status report in a sealed cover before the bench.

The counsel said IIT-Kanpur has been asked to carry out a ‘ground penetrating radar survey’ to detect the structure below the surface and complete its survey by September-end, after which ASI would file its final report.

Appearing for MCD, senior counsel Chetan Sharma submitted that the corporation is ready to demolish the “illegal” structure if police protection was given.

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