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SC junks PIL seeking inquiry into history of Taj Mahal, terms it 'publicity interest litigation'

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New Delhi, Oct 21: The Supreme Court on Friday junked a plea seeking a "fact-finding inquiry" into the history of the Taj Mahal and the "opening of 22 rooms" on the monument's premises, terming it "publicity interest litigation".

A bench of justices M R Shah and M M Sundresh refused to interfere with the Allahabad High Court order that had dismissed the plea. "The high court was not in error in dismissing the petition, which is more of a publicity interest litigation. Dismissed," the bench said.

SC junks PIL seeking inquiry into history of Taj Mahal, terms it publicity interest litigation

The high court had, on May 12, said petitioner Rajneesh Singh, who is the media in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Ayodhya unit, had failed to point out which of his legal or constitutional rights were being infringed. It had also pulled up the petitioner's lawyer for filing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition in a "casual" manner and said it could not pass an order under Article 226 of the Constitution in the matter.

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The article empowers a high court to issue orders or writs to any person or authority in the area under its jurisdiction to enforce fundamental rights. Several Hindu right-wing outfits had claimed in the past that the Mughal-era mausoleum was a temple of Lord Shiva. The monument is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The petition had also sought the setting aside of certain provisions of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951 and the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, under which the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort and Itimad-ud-Daulah's tomb were declared historical monuments.

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