Putting to rest, for the time being, speculation on an issue loaded with political and social ramifications, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court dismissed on Thursday a petition seeking to open 22 doors in the Taj Mahal. The petition had also sought the setting up of a fact-finding inquiry into the ‘history’ of the monument.
According to reports by agencies, a bench of Justices D.K. Upadhyay and Subhash Vidyarthi told the petitioner to not “make a mockery of the PIL system.” The bench remarked, “Tomorrow you will come and ask us to go to chambers of Hon’ble judges.”
The writ petition, filed by Rajneesh Singh, who is media in-charge of BJP’s Ayodhya unit, had also sought setting aside certain provisions of the the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act 1951, and the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, under which the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb were declared historical monuments.
The court also said, “For the prayer regarding opening up of the rooms, the historical research ought to involve a proper methodology. This should be left to the historians.” As reported by Bar and Bench, the court added, “Go and research. Do M.A. Do PhD. Then choose such a topic and if any institute disallows you to research on such a topic… then come to us. Please enrol yourself in MA, then go for NET, JRF and if any university denies you to research on such topic then come to us.”
In his petition, Singh had “…demanded that the 22 doors of rooms of the monument which are closed should be opened to see the truth, whatever it is.”
According to media reports, the petitioner has now said he will move the Supreme Court to challenge the HC order. “Before moving to the Supreme Court, we will approach the Department of History and the Archaeological Survey of India,” Rudra Vikram Singh, lawyer for the petitioner was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, rebuking Singh, the court told him that debates about the closed-off rooms and what they might contain are not welcome in a court of law. “I welcome you to debate the issue with us in the drawing room and not in a court of law.” The court wanted to know, “Are these issues debatable in a court of law? Are we judges trained and equipped with such things?”