S.N. BHARDWAJ Vs. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA & ORS.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: DELHI)
Archaeological Survey Of India And Ors.
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(1.) Sultan Giyasuddin Tughlaq founded the Tughlak Dynesty and ruled during the period 1321-1325 A.D. He constructed the historic Tughlakabad Fort in Tughlakabad spreading over an area of about 3000 bighas and area-wise it is considered one of the largest among all the Forts in Delhi. Tughlakabad Fort is regarded as the third major city after Kila Rai Pithora, which was built by the Rajput Anang Pal Tomer, and the Siri Fort, which was built by Allaudin Khilji. The Fort has its national importance. It has been declared as protected monument. Therefore, it is the legal as well as ethical obligation of the concerned authorities to protect this heritage site and to properly maintain it. Notwithstanding, over a period of time, the place is encroached upon and rampant illegal construction carried out by many people.
(2.) The appellant herein felt aggrieved by the alleged inaction on the part of the Archaeological Survey of India respondent No.1 (hereinafter referred to as 'ASI' for short) as, according to him, the ASI has failed to protect, maintain and preserve the historic Tughlakabad Fort. According to him, various illegal occupants have since entered the fort premises and constructed their houses with a view to grab the Government land for dwelling purposes. This apathy of the ASI compelled the appellant to file CWP No. 1475 of 2001 in the High Court of Delhi, by way of Public Interest Litigation, in March 2001. In this writ petition, the appellant, inter alia, stated that the Fort and the area measuring 2661 bighas within the fortification wall was transferred to the ASI by the Delhi Government with the objective of protection, preservation and development of the entire opening area abutting the monument within the Fort wall. He mentioned that it was reported in the press that an area of 4435 bighas was transferred to respondent No.2 Delhi Development Authority for care and maintenance. The Government land was allowed to be encroached by all the respondents and construction work was carried out with the active collusion of the Government officials as per reports in the Press. The appellant also mentioned that the matter had been highlighted by the Press to open the eyes of the authorities but the respondents were doing virtually nothing in this regard and the historic Fort is likely to be completely ruined, which will cause national loss to our ancient heritage and composite culture. The appellant brought to the notice of the High Court a judgment of this Court in Rajeev Mankotia v. Secretary to the President of India & Ors., 1997 10 SCC 441, in which case this Court intervened and saved another historical Viceregal Lodge. Accordingly, in the said writ petition, the appellant prayed that the ASI be directed to discharge its legal duty by evicting those illegal occupants. He also made a prayer to the effect that direction be issued to the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry as to how the Fort had been encroached upon by illegal occupants.
(3.) On the very first date, i.e. on March 07, 2001, when the said writ petition came up for hearing, the High Court disposed of the same with the observations that the ASI need to look into the grievances in proper perspective and take necessary action as is warranted in law. This brief order reads as under:
"CWP No. 1475/2001
Heard. This petition is stated to have been filed in Public interest. Though the petition is not very specific as regards the alleged un-authorised construction we think it would be appropriate if the concerned authorities look into the grievances in the proper perspective and take necessary action as is warranted in law. We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion as regards acceptability of the petitioner's stand. This direction is confined to Respondent No.1 i.e. Archaeological Survey of India. Petitioner shall hand over a copy of the petition to Mr. U. Hazarika, appearing for ASI. Copy of the order be given Dasti to Mr. Hazarika.
The petition stands disposed of.";
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