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Taj Mahal Case: An Upsurge in the Nation

5 min read

 By Tashmayee Sarkhel

Published on: 02nd August 2022 at 21:20 IST

This article comprehends the facts related to the immense history of the Taj Mahal, the MC Mehta Vs. Union of India case, the recent dispute over it, and the judgment passed on it.

The Allahabad High Court earlier this year denied a petition demanding a “fact-finding inquiry” into the Taj Mahal’s history and the “opening of 22 apartments” on the monument’s grounds, stating the petitioner failed to specify which of his legal or constitutional rights were being violated. Rajneesh Singh, who is in charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s media bureau in Ayodhya, filed the petition. Several Hindu groups believed that the Mughal-era tomb was erected over the remnants of a Hindu temple, according to Singh.

Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal is located in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, on the right bank of the Yamuna River, amid a huge Mughal Garden of over 17 hectares. It was created in honor of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal, with construction beginning in 1632 AD and ending in 1648 AD, with the mosque, guest house, and the main gateway on the south, and the outer courtyard and its cloisters added later and completed in 1653 AD. The discovery of various historical and Quranic inscriptions in Arabic script aided in determining the Taj Mahal’s chronology. Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders, and other artists were requisitioned from all over the empire, as well as Central Asia and Iran, to complete the project. The Taj Mahal was designed mostly by Ustad-Ahmad Lahori.

Through perfect harmony and exceptional craftsmanship in a wide spectrum of Indo-Islamic sepulchral architecture, the Taj Mahal represents the best architectural and aesthetic achievement. It is a work of art in terms of architectural style in terms of conception, treatment, and execution, with distinctive aesthetic features such as balance, symmetry, and the harmonious blending of numerous parts. The main gate, which rises magnificently in the center of the southern wall of the forecourt, is the most impressive structure in the Taj Mahal complex, aside from the tomb. The Taj Mahal is often regarded as the most significant architectural achievement in Indo-Islamic architecture. Its architectural elegance is defined by a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex surfaces, and light shadow; arches and domes add to the aesthetic appeal.

The MC Mehta Vs. Union of India:

M.C. Mehta and the Union of India[1] were involved in the Taj Mahal Case, also known as the Taj Trapezium Case. In 1986, he requested a writ of mandamus. One of India’s most magnificent Mughal structures is the Taj Mahal. The 10,400-square-kilometer Taj Trapezium Zone was constructed to preserve the area from pollution. In 1984, Mehta went to the Taj and saw that the white marble was yellowing. He filed a petition in the Supreme Court to bring this subject to public attention.

Facts of the case

  • The main source of the yellow color, according to the petitioner, is pollution. Acid rain results from the release of polluting gases such as sulfur dioxide and oxygen. The rain damaged the monument, turning the stones yellow.
  • The petitioner so requested that the monument be protected.
  • The Central Board for Water Pollution Prevention and Control issued the “Inventory and Assessment of Pollution Emission in and Around Agra-Mathura Region.”
  • The report judged pollution levels to be high and suggested ways to lower them.
  • The shutting down of thermal power plants was one of the measures. Sulfur dioxide emissions were also cut in half.

Judgment to the case – Other than chemicals, the Supreme Court found that socioeconomic circumstances caused Taj’s degeneration. Air pollution put residents of the Trapezium Zone in danger. The court ordered 292 enterprises to use safe fuels such as propane instead of coke or coal or face relocation. Applications of gas were overseen by the Gas Authority of India Limited. Workers in these industries were also granted a few basic rights by the court, including the payment of wages during the relocation period.

Dispute over it recently:

Claims that the Taj Mahal was built over the ruins of an old Shiva temple, dubbed ‘Tejo Mahalaya’ by ‘Indologist’ PN Oak. Several BJP politicians, including Kapil Mishra and others, have repeatedly demanded that the Taj Mahal be inspected for remnants of Hindu temples. On social media, unsubstantiated tales about the Taj Mahal’s shady origins circulate regularly.

Sangeet Som, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), launched the most recent attack. The monument, according to Som, is a “blot on Indian culture” that was created by “traitors.” This isn’t the first time that members of the BJP or other Hindu organizations have attacked India’s Islamic past. The Taj Mahal was removed from the official tourism booklet in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Earlier this month, the booklet was released.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government has been accused of attempting to alter history textbooks, particularly those about India’s former Muslim rulers. Asaduddin Owaisi, a federal politician and Muslim leader, slammed Som’s remarks. He inquired if the government would advise tourists against visiting the Taj Mahal and other monuments erected by India’s former Muslim rulers. Som’s remarks were condemned by the BJP. Vijay Bahadur Pathak, the party’s general secretary, said the Taj Mahal is a symbol of Indian pride. “Whatever Som said is his personal opinion; the BJP has no bearing on it,” he clarified.

The plea submitted:

Dr. Rajneesh Singh, the media coordinator for the BJP’s Ayodhya unit, filed the Writ petition. The petition requests that the government form a fact-finding committee to research and publicize the “true history of the Taj Mahal” and put the debate surrounding it to rest. The petition, submitted by counsel Rudra Vikram Singh, also stated that certain parties have claimed that the Taj Mahal is an old Shiva Temple known as ‘Tejo Mahalaya,’ which is backed up by numerous historians.

As a result of these statements, it was argued that Hindus and Muslims have been fighting with each other and that in a secular country like ours.

The petitioner submitted, “It is there in many History books that in 1212 AD, Raja Paramardi Dev had built Tejo Mahalaya temple palace (presently Taj Mahal). The temple was later inherited by Raja Maan Singh, the then Maharaja of Jaipur. After him, the property was held and managed by Raja Jai Singh but was annexed by Shah Jahan (in 1632) and later it was converted into a memorial for the wife of Shah Jahan.”

Conclusion:

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday dismissed public interest litigation (PIL) seeking direction from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to “open 22 sealed doors” of the Taj Mahal in Agra to resolve the “controversy” around the monument’s origins. The Bench told the counsel for the petitioner that the relief sought in the plea i.e., exploration of facts through a fact-finding committee does not fall under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Therefore, while dismissing the plea the Court said: “It is not for the Court to direct what subject needs to be researched or studied. We are not able to entertain such a petition.”

Reference:

  1. M.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India, 1986