SC extends status quo order on mosque

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended till December 5 its order for maintaining status quo at a park near Red Fort.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday extended till December 5 its order for maintaining status quo at a park near Red Fort where an unauthorised mosque was allegedly built by a local MLA and his supporters over the purported ruins of a Mughal-era Akbarabadi mosque.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also sought response from the Centre and the Delhi Government on the plea by local MLA Shoib Iqbal seeking restoration of his security.

The court also appointed senior advocate L N Rao as amicus curiae to assist in the matter.

During the earlier hearing on November 1, the court had said the alleged unauthorised construction of a mosque was not a simple case of illegal structure as it raised a "larger" issue.

The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) had told the bench, also comprising justices S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar, that the site at Subhash Park was a "protected area" and hence, no construction can be carried out.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the custodian of the park where the mosque was allegedly built by Iqbal, stuck to its earlier stand that the structure was "unauthorised" one.

The apex court had asked all parties on October 30 to maintain status quo.

The bench had said it would like to hear the views of all the parties, including the ASI, Delhi Government and the Centre before going into the details.

It was hearing an appeal filed by Iqbal, facing contempt proceedings in the Delhi High Court for allegedly trespassing and building mosque on the government land, challenging the high court`s July 30 order directing the ASI and NDMC to demolish the structure.

Taking suo motu cognisance over the reported construction of the structure, the high court had asked the ASI and the NDMC on July 30 to demolish the structure within 15 days to ascertain if any Mughal-era mosque existed on the site.

Later, on October 19, the high court had dismissed as infructuous the Delhi Police`s plea seeking to modify an earlier order asking it provide help and security to the ASI and NDMC in razing the illegal mosque.

Following purported discovery of the remains of a Mughal era structure, an Akbarabadi Mosque, on the site near Red Fort during an ongoing work by Delhi Metro, locals led by Iqbal had allegedly begun building a mosque there in July.