New Delhi: Construction of a mosque near the historic Jama Masjid was on Friday stopped by the Delhi High Court which directed the local civic authority to immediately hand over the site to the ASI to ascertain if there were any remains of Mughal era structure there.
The court also asked the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to cordon off the area with police assistance so that no one can enter the site.
The NDMC had yesterday refused to grant permission for carrying out any religious activity at the spot, where the ruins of Mughal-era Akbarabadi mosque is believed to have been discovered early this month during Delhi Metro work.
Devotees led by local RLD MLA Shoib Iqbal had started thronging Subhash Park near the Red Fort from morning and offered namaz at the structure.
A full bench headed by Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri directed the Archaeological Survey of India to take possession of the site and probe if there was any Mughal era structure existing there.
"There should not be further construction on the site. The NDMC shall cordon off the area by setting up barriers and police is also hereby directed to render assistance to the agency," said the bench, also comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher.
"We are of the opinion that it is the ASI which is to take over the possession of the site and start investigation on whether there was any archaeological remains of any Mughal era structure existing on the site," the court said.
Asking the Delhi chief minister to deal with the issue expeditiously, the high court asked the Delhi government to hold a high-level meeting of senior officers from various departments, including ASI, NDMC, DUAC.
Directing the NDMC to file a status report regarding Jama Masjid re-development plan, the bench posted the matter for July 25.
The court passed the order after senior advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for a group of lawyers, sought its intervention alleging that Iqbal is "illegally constructing a mosque on government land".