Who dug up Old Delhi site, asks SC

Hearing

Subhash Park Row Govt seeks time until Diwali on demolition order; ASI says structure illegal

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought to know who had carried out digging at a site at Subhash Park near Red Fort where an illegal structure came up on the purported ruins of the Mughal-era Akbarabadi mosque.

A bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir asked senior advocate Aman Lekhi to file an affidavit, explaining how he got to know that it was Delhi MLA Shoaib Iqbal who, along with his supporters, had dug up the area.

The court, which was initially under the impression that excavation was done by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Iqbal reportedly put up a structure at a later stage, sought an explanation since the Delhi High Court order also read that Iqbal dug the site.

"We think what you (Lekhi) said has also been recorded by the Delhi High Court and it acted on that basis. We would want to know what was there before the court to pass this order and how did you say that area was dug by the MLA," the bench said, asking Lekhi to bring on record his contention that prompted the High Court to take suo motu cognisance of the issue. It also ordered status quo until November 8, the next date of hearing.

On July 20, Lekhi had mentioned the matter before the High Court, seeking its intervention against the encroachment by the MLA. Ordering a stay on construction, the High Court had directed the North Municipal Corporation to immediately hand over the site to the Archaeological Survey of India. Later, it also allowed the ASI to pull down the structure to ascertain whether the remains of the Akbarabadi mosque existed there.

On October 19, after the High Court dismissed a Delhi Police plea to modify its order to provide help and security to the ASI and the North municipal corporation to raze the structure, Iqbal moved the Supreme Court.

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