In a bizarre case from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, Justices Subhash Vidyarthi and Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya heard a PIL to open the “22 sealed doors” in Agra’s famous Taj Mahal.
The plea, filed by Dr. Rajneesh Singh, the media in charge for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Ayodhya, sought directions from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to open the ‘doors of secrecy’ to inspect for possible remnants of what some have historically regarded as a Lord Shiva Temple, allegedly by the name Tejo Mahalaya.
The Mandamus writ filed under Article 226 went on to mention historical evidence suggesting the possibility that the Taj Mahal was not intended to be regarded as a mausoleum. Rather, it may have been built by order of Raja Paramardi Dev in 1212 AD, which was later on annexed by Shah Jahan to be converted into one for his wife.
The bench was quick to dismiss it as a “mockery” of the Public Litigation System, stating that the issue is a “completely non-justiciable” one.
While this case may be one in a thousand such pleas to take the Courts by storm, such petitions, particularly PILs, have become more about publicity than constructive change. This petition may hold ground on historical claims, but the validity of the judicial system is laid to rest upon the inspection of such speculations, wherein they emerge ultra vires vis-à-vis our Court system.
With the ease of litigation, comes the ripple effect of incessant cases plaguing the judiciary. Despite best efforts, however, this luxury is yet to be accorded to the likes of the lower, working-class people. The common may shy away from “court-kachehri”, while the word of the affluent reigns supreme.
Additionally, upon enquiry under the RTI Act, the petitioner did receive information from an ASI senior official alluding to the sensitive nature of preserving the World Heritage Site, to justify the closed-off sections of the Taj Mahal.
Further, it was also revealed that no evidence has been found by the ASI to support these claims, despite the monument’s upkeep over several years.
The Court in its dismissal noted that the petitioner may take this information as his answer, or challenge the matter, which again raises the fear of unwarranted litigation.
The narrative presented here that each piece of conjecture needs to be examined by a Court of Law is firstly very difficult to ascertain for good, and more importantly, is a rabbit hole into the Judiciary’s rising cases seemingly without resolution.
Dr. Rajneesh Singh v Union of India and Ors is one case amidst the many that are added onto the Court’s plate every single day. While this is not a plea to avoid seeking legal guidance, one may consider other measures of dispute resolution or concrete research to ascertain facts before diving into the sea of litigation.
Any bench grows weary with the weight of a thousand pounds.
Why should the pendency of such cases in Court Benches be any different?
This post was written by Manya, IIIrd Year.