New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to expeditiously consider the Maharashtra-based registered trust R.R. Patil Foundation’s plea in case it plans to co-organise with the Maharashtra government a cultural programme at the Agra Fort on Chhatrapati Shivaji’s birth anniversary on February 19.
A single-judge bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh was dealing with a plea moved by the R.R. Patil Foundation along with Ajinkya Devgiri Pratishthan against the ASI’s last December’s communication denying them permission to organise the event. The letter to the Union Culture Minister for organising the event was addressed by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Counsel representing the Centre submitted that a private body cannot be permitted to organise a cultural programme at any monument and it does not want to start a new tradition.
After taking note of the ASI’s official memorandum issued in 2005 to permit only government departments and public bodies to organise cultural events inside the protected monuments and sites, the court said: “Since the OM and policy of ASI has been in operation for almost 18 years now and no challenge has been made to the same, it is deemed appropriate to direct that if the petitioner wishes to co-organise the event along with the state, they may move a letter to the ASI which shall be considered expeditiously.”
However, here the Maharashtra government is not the co-organiser of the event. The Chief Minister has only supported the NGO’s plea.
Justice Singh passed the direction only because the petitioner had approached the Maharashtra government for coordinating the event, which is under consideration.
Moreover, the court, while disposing of the matter, granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the court if there is a delay in consideration of the letter by the ASI.
The plea stated that the NGO and the people of Maharashtra are emotionally attached to the Agra Fort, where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son were imprisoned and kept captive by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The petitioner also told the court that it was involved in social and charitable activities in Maharashtra.