India "Taj Mahal Owned By Almighty, But...": What Waqf Board Said In Court Today

14:01  17 april  2018
14:01  17 april  2018 Source:   NDTV

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No human can claim ownership of Taj Mahal, Sunni Waqf Board told Supreme Court © Getty No human can claim ownership of Taj Mahal, Sunni Waqf Board told Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Taj Mahal is owned by the Almighty but must be listed as property of the Sunni Waqf Board for practical purposes, the Supreme Court was told today by the religious body.

Last week, the board had been asked by the Supreme Court to back up its claim on the 17th century monument by producing ownership documents signed by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal.

The board told the court today that it has no such signed documents from the descendants of Shah Jahan.

No human can claim ownership of the marble monument, the board added. "But it is Wakf Board property because it is allowed to perform rituals," said its lawyer.

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The board also told the Supreme Court that it can manage the Taj Mahal without ownership.

A part of Fatehpur Sikri - the fort near Agra built by emperor Akbar - is registered as Wakf property, where the mosque exists, and the adjourning area is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), said the Sunni Waqf board.

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The board urged the Archeological body to consider whether the Taj Mahal can be registered as its property, only for maintenance.

ASI opposed it, concerned that signing off ownership of the Taj Mahal would create other problems and spur similar claims for the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

"We don't have the documents to show Taj Mahal is Wakf property. But by virtue of continuous use, it is a Wakf property and the Sunni Wakf board is entitled to manage the Taj Mahal," said the Sunni board's lawyer.

A decision to do so, responded Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, would create a problem.

The court has set the next date of hearing on July 27.

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Last week, the Supreme Court had asked the Board to produce the signature of Emperor Shah Jahan, who died in 1666 - almost 18 years after the monument he built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal was completed.

In 2010, the archeological board had petitioned the court against the Wakf board's July 2005 decision that the Taj be registered as its property. The order was put on hold.

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