The Waqf Tribunal in 2005 held that Taj Mahal is a Waqf property.
New Delhi: The Taj Mahal is owned by the Almighty but must be listed as the property of the Sunni Waqf Board for practical purposes, the religious body told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Last week, the Supreme Court had asked the board to back its claim on the 17th century monument by producing ownership documents signed by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal and died in 1666, or his descendents.
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that no signed documents from Shah Jahan or his direct descendants are available to show that the historical monument is a Waqf Board property. But, even in the absence of any document, the property of Taj Mahal vests with Waqf Board because of continuous use, senior counsel Salman Khurshid told a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.
The Waqf Tribunal in 2005 held that Taj Mahal is a Waqf property. On appeal by the Archaeological Survey of India, the Allahabad high court refused to interfere and the present appeal by ASI is directed against this order. In response to the bench’s instructions to produce any document signed by Shah Jahan or his descendents, the board on Tuesday told the court that it has no such signed documents and that no human can claim ownership of the marble monument.
When the CJI asked as to who is the owner of the property, Mr Khurshid told the bench, “No human being or individual can claim ownership as God Almighty is the owner. What the board is asking is right to maintain the property... There is no delegation from the descendants or any document is available with us, but it is a Waqf property because of continuous use... because it is allowed to perform rituals.”
Mr Khushid submitted that even in the case of Fatehpur Sikri, the board maintains the portion where a mosque is situated and ASI controls the area surrounding the monument. There is no clash between ASI and Waqf Board and both are custodians.
He said, “We have no complaint against the ASI as we are allowed to perform all rituals, prayers five times a day and special prayers during Ramzan. We want the property of Taj should be registered as a Waqf property without claiming ownership.”
“Once you have registered the monument as a waqf property, your statement that you will not be staking claim will not help,” said the bench.
Opposing the suggestion, senior counsel A.D.N. Rao appearing for ASI said registration of Taj Mahal as Waqf property will create problems and tomorrow they will claim ownership for Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri also and this will go on endlessly.
Chief Justice, referring to the decision of the Waqf tribunal that Taj Mahal is a Waqf property, told counsel for ASI, “This decision is creating problem. We will consider.”
The bench posted the matter for final disposal on July 27.