New Delhi, Apr 11: After the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board claimed that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had given the ownership of Taj Mahal to them, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the board to produce documents to prove its claim over the monument. The apex court asked Sunni Wakf Board to produce documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Taj Mahal, one the seven wonders of the world, was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board has a week to produce the signatures of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who died in 1666. Appearing for the board, senior advocate VV Giri said Shah Jahan executed a wakfnama in favour of the board. “Then you show us the original deed executed by Shah Jahan. Show us the signature,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told the board. “How did he (Shah Jahan) sign the wakfnama? He was in jail and used to view the monument while in custody,” the Chief Justice asked.
Shah Jahan was put under house arrest by son Aurangzeb in the Agra Fort where he died. Advocate ADN Rao, who appeared for the ASI, said there was no wakfnama. “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,” Rao was quoted as saying.
The top court also said that the Taj Mahal and other heritage structures built by the Mughals passed on to the British after the end of the Mughal rule. After Independence, the structures vested with the Indian government and were being managed by ASI, the court reminded the board. “Who in India will believe it belongs to the wakf board? These kinds of issues must not waste the time of the Supreme Court,” Justice Misra asked.
The Wakf had ordered that the Taj Mahal be registered as its property in July 2005. The decision was challenged by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2010, following which the court stayed the order. Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.