Delhi High Court asks DDA to maintain status quo of Mehrauli mosque land [6.2.2024]

The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the  DDA to maintain status quo of the land located in the city’s Mehrauli area, on which the 600-year-old Akhoondji Masjid was demolished, till February 12.

A bench of Justice Sachin Datta, however, underlined that the judgment would not prevent the city authorities from taking action against other illegal properties in the area.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board seeking the status quo of the land where the mosque was located.

The DDA on January 30 demolished the masjid, the Behrul Uloom madrasa, and several graves, citing unauthorised structures.

On January 31, the high court asked DDA whether it had provided any prior notice before demolishing the mosque. "Let the DDA file its reply within a period of one week clearly setting out the action that has been taken in respect of the property concerned and the basis thereof and as to whether any prior notice was given before taking the demolition action," the judge wrote in his ruling.

On Monday, the Managing Committee, represented by counsel Shams Khwaja, contended that the Religious Committee lacked jurisdiction to order any demolition action.

In 2009, the Supreme Court issued instructions to demolish, relocate, and regulate unauthorised religious constructions in all public spaces, as well as to prohibit their continuing occupation. In 2014, Delhi established a Religious Committee chaired by the home secretary to consider such matters and make recommendations.

Khwaja also claimed that the DDA had not only demolished the mosque, but also dug the remains buried in the graveyard and damaged copies of the Quran.

The DDA, represented by counsel Sanjay Katyal, contended that the demolition was carried out on January 4 in accordance with the Religious Committee's recommendations and that the CEO of the Delhi Waqf Board was also afforded an opportunity to hear before the decision.

07 Feb 2024