The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board to produce documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to lay its claim over ownership of Taj Mahal.
A three-judge bench headed by CJI Deepak Mishra told the board’s counsel that the 17th century monument and other heritage structures built by the Mughals had passed on to the British after the Mughal rule, came to be vested with the government of India after Independence and were being managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), The Indian Express reported.
The Court’s response came on a plea by the ASI, challenging the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board’s decision to declare Taj Mahal a Wakf Property in 2005.
“Who in India will believe it belongs to the wakf board? These kind of issues must not waste the time of the Supreme Court,” the apex court told the board.
Appearing for the board, senior advocate VV Giri said Shah Jahan executed a wakfnama in favour of the board, a submission challenged by ASI.
To which the bench responded by asking the counsel to produce evidence to back its claims.
“Then you show us the original deed executed by Shah Jahan. Show us the signature,” it said granting a week’s time on Giri’s request.
ASI advocate ADN Rao insisted there was no waqfnama. “Under the 1858 proclamation, the properties taken over from the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the British vested with the Queen. By the 1948 act, the buildings were taken over by the Indian government,” he said as reported by Hindustan Times
The CJI also had a few posers for the board counsel.
“How did he (Shah Jahan) sign the wakfnama? He was in jail and used to view the monument while in custody,” CJI Mishra said.