The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking to open 22 closed rooms in the Taj Mahal. Reprimanding the petitioner, a bench of Justices DK Upadhyay and Subhash Vidyarthi, stated, "Tomorrow you will come and ask us to go to chambers of honourable judges? Please, don't make a mockery of the PIL system."
The plea was filed by Rajneesh Singh, a BJP youth media in-charge, before the Lucknow bench that sought the directions to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to probe the 22 closed doors in the Taj Mahal to ascertain the presence of the idols of Hindu deities.
The plea sought the constitution of a fact-finding committee and the submission of a report by the ASI. The plea also cited the claims by some historians and some Hindu groups about the monument being an old Shiv Temple.
During the hearing, the bench told the petitioner that such debates were welcome in informal settings, but not in a court of law, reported Bar and Bench.
"I welcome you to debate the issue with us in the drawing room and not in a court of law," the court stated.
The petitioner argued that there was a truth that the citizens of the country needed to know about the Taj Mahal. "I have also filed many RTIs. I got to know about many rooms which have been locked and the authorities said that those rooms are locked because of security reasons."
Expressing its displeasure at the plea, the court said, "Are these issues debatable in a court of law? Are we judges trained and equipped with such things?"
Replying to the petitioner's argument regarding "right to information", the bench further said, "Go and research. Do M.A. Do PhD. Then choose such a topic and if any institute disallows you to research on such a topic. Then come to us. Please enrol yourself in MA, then go for NET, JRF and if any university denies you to research on such topic then come to us."
The petitioner had earlier said he had been trying to ascertain the facts since 2020 through the Right to Information Act. "Replying to the RTI, the Union ministry of culture informed the Central Information Commission (in Delhi) that these rooms were locked due to security reasons," said Singh. And no detail was provided about these rooms, he added.
"In the RTI, I had sought details about locked rooms (what is inside them) and directives to open them," he said.
"It is an old controversy. There is no harm in authorising ASI to examine these rooms to ascertain facts. This will put to rest all controversies related to the Taj Mahal," said DP Tewari, former professor of ancient history at the Lucknow University.