New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked its registry to collect and place before it the original lease deed of the court complex to ascertain from when a mosque has been in existence in its premises.
A bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and RK Gauba issued the order on a plea questioning whether the precincts of the High Court can be used by any community to profess and practice their religion.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on March 11.
The order came on the public interest petition filed by one Ajay Gautam alleging that religious activity in the mosque inside High Court premises "has been going on for a long time without there being any formal approval for the same from the officials of the court or from any other competent authority.
The PIL has sought that directions be issued prohibiting offer of prayers at the mosque as well as its demolition on the grounds that it is not an ancient structure and is a security threat to the court premises.
The petitioner has claimed that in response to his Right to Information application to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the authority on January 15, last year, had said that no such ancient structure or ancient mosque exists inside the High Court.
"It is important to mention here that from the reply of the ASI it has become crystal clear that the structure situated near Gate no. 5 of the Delhi High Court is not ancient in nature and it has been created somewhere in the near past by the members of Muslim community without any due sanction and approval," his petition said.
It contended that "a public office of an instrumentality of state cannot be used by any particular religion or caste for the worship or for propagation of any religion.
"The petitioner herein has raised this issue before the High Court vide letter petition dated December 21, 2013. However, no action has been taken till date on the representation..."
Central government standing counsel Anil Soni appeared for ASI in the matter.