Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: In a matter wherein the petitioner sought commissioning of a study so that history of Taj Mahal could be explored, and controversy be put to rest, the Division Bench of Devendra Upadhyaya and Subhash Vidyarthi, JJ., held that the as to which subject should be studied or researched or which topic of a particular area or discipline are not issues where this Court can be said to be possessed of any judicially manageable standards to adjudicate upon.

Proceedings in the public interest were instituted under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The petition sought a direction to be issued for commissioning a study in respect of the history of a monument known as Taj Mahal situated in Agra, further authorities may be directed to open the sealed doors of the approximately 22 rooms situated inside the Taj Mahal, so that alleged controversy relating to its history may be set at rest.

A declaration for declaring the parliamentary enactment namely Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951 to be ultra vires the provisions of Article 19 (1) (a), 25, 26, 49 and 51-A (f) (h) of the Constitution of India to the extent the said Act declares certain monuments mentioned in the prayer clause as having been built by Mughals.

Adding to the above, a direction, particularly for ASI, was sought to open the locks of the upper and lower portions of the 4 storeyed Taj Mahal to remove all the walls built which are blocking such rooms and further to investigate scientifically and certify as to which of the two cenotaphs are fake.

Lastly, it was stated that certain directions regarding the removal of certain structures within the building be made so that historical evidence hidden inside may be brought to the surface.

Analysis and Decision


High Court held that the petitioner has called upon the Court to adjudicate and give a verdict on a completely non-justiciable issue.

The Bench stated that the power of judicial review is circumscribed by certain well recognized and established legal principles, one of such principles is the doctrine of non-justiciability.

The well-known doctrine of non-justiciability enunciates that if there are no judicially manageable standards available to a Court to adjudicate upon an issue, the petition of such a nature will not be maintainable.

Direction for opening up of rooms existing in Taj Mahal to facilitate historical study

Any historical research conducted by academicians will necessarily involve a particular methodology. Determination of the question as to which particular methodology of research would yield correct results, in our opinion, lies outside the scope of our jurisdiction and powers of judicial review.

Further, the Court added that, a writ of mandamus can be issued only in case of infringement of any right. To conduct the study and research or exploration of knowledge etc. are the subjects and issues, which, as observed above, are better to be left to the academicians, the researchers and experts of the field.

Hence, in absence of infringement of a legal right or constitutional right, Court would not be able to entertain the petition.

“Judges by experience and training are not equipped to pronounce any verdict on non-justiciable issues.”

While concluding the matter, Court held that, the Court exercising powers of judicial review may refrain itself from exercising its jurisdiction if it finds that the controversy raised before it cannot be adjudicated upon or determined on any judicially manageable and discoverable standard.

Moving to the other prayers, Court found that the 1951 Act was repealed on promulgation of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. Hence, prayer made seeking a declaration that a legislation is ultra-vires, which stood repealed about 64 years ago is redundant.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed. [Dr Rajneesh Singh v. Ministry of Culture, PIL No. 236 of 2022, decided on 12-5-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Petitioner:- Ram Prakash Shukla

Counsel for Respondent :- A.S.G.I.,C.S.C.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Depak Gupta, JJ., took up the matter concerning the Vision Document on the Taj Mahal.

The order stated that the Bench had a brief discussion with Ms Meenakshi Dhote who is a professor of Environmental Planning, DSPA and Project Coordinator of Vision Document. The bench has advised her to prepare a document along with the other experts by keeping the interest of Taj Trapezium Zone and Taj Mahal in mind, and on facing hurdles or obstacles she can always approach the Court.

The petitioner (M.C. Mehta) also mentioned that he had two meetings with Ms Dhote and he would be giving his suggestions in regard to the document within two weeks or so. Mr Mehta also pointed out that declaration of Agra as a heritage city was given as a direction in the case of  M.C. Mehta v. Union Of India, (1997) 2 SCC 353. In response to the same, ASG stated that he has communicated the same to the U.P. Government in order to send a proposal for declaring Agra as a heritage city. Also, the ASG submitted that the Archaeological Survey of India would be filing the Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO.

Further valuable suggestions were received from ICOMOS, Aga Khan Foundation and INTACH in regard to the vision document. The matter was further listed for 25-09-2018. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Taj Trapezium Zone),2018 SCC OnLine SC 1287, Order dated 28-08-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta JJ., questioned the Uttar Pradesh government’s concern in the matter on the submission of a draft report of the vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Supreme Court bench condemned the submission of draft report of vision document on the protection of the Taj Mahal by asking the State government that: Why have they filed the draft? Are we supposed to vet it? Is it our job to vet it? The Court also stated that Archaeological Survey of India,  responsible for protection of the 17th-century monument was not consulted in framing the draft report is in itself a surprising fact.

Further, the Apex court also asked the state government to supply the draft report to a panel of conservation experts, including INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), for their comments.

The matter in regard to the draft report has been listed for 28-08-2018.

[SOURCE: PTI]

 

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the issue relating to demolition of the parking lot, being constructed near the eastern gate of Taj Mahal, the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Court that he will file the comprehensive policy with regard to the entire issue of pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone and the nearby areas within two weeks.

The bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta had earlier on 24.10.2017, ordered demolition of the parking lot, being constructed near the eastern gate of Taj Mahal while hearing the petition filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, who has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal from the ill effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.

On 25.10.2017, Uttar Pradesh State’s counsel Aishwarya Bhati told the bench headed by J. Chelameswar, J that she could not appear before the court on 24.10.2017 when the matter was called up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, due to which the demolition order was passed. The Court hence, agreed to hear the restoration plea.

The matter will now be heard on 15.11.2017. Status quo will be maintained till then. [MC Mehta v Ministry of Environment and Forests,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1280, order dated 27.10.2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court agreed to hear the Uttar Pradesh government’s restoration plea against its order to demolish a multi-level car parking facility being built within a kilometer of the Taj Mahal. The hearing will take place on October 27, 2017.

State’s counsel Aishwarya Bhati told the bench headed by J. Chelameswar, J that she could not appear before the court yesterday when the matter was called up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, due to which the demolition order was passed.

The Court had, on 24.10.2017, ordered demolition of the parking lot, being constructed near the eastern gate of Taj Mahal while hearing the petition filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal from the ill effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.

Source: PTI