UP Wakf Board ends its claim on Taj Mahal, but SC not impressed

Seeking to end at least one of the controversies around India’s most famous monument, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it won't stake a claim to ownership of the Taj Mahal.

The matter does not, however, end there. Asking senior counsel A D N Rao appearing for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take instructions, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that once the board pressed its right over the monument, the apex court has to adjudicate the issue.
"Once you have registered the monument as a Wakf property, your statement that you will not be staking claim will not help," said the bench and posted the next hearing for 27 July.
In its hearing on 11 April, the court asked the Wakf Board to produce an original title document bearing the signature of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan – who built the monument - to prove its claim.
Telling the court the Taj Mahal is owned by the almighty, the Sunni Wakf Board on Tuesday said it has no document from the Mughal rulers or their descendants bestowing the 17th century monument on it.
The board had earlier said the monument belonged to it as its members have been continuously performing Urs on the death anniversary of Shah Jahan and Friday Namaz at the Majid located in the compound of the Taj Mahal. But the board told the court that no human can lay claim to the magnificent monument.
Y H Tucy, who claims to be the great grandson of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, has said that the Taj Mahal is the nation's property and no one can claim a right over it.
"Remember Emperor Shah Jahan has not written a deed in favour of Waqf," Tucy had told IANS in an interview.
The Archaeological Survey of India moved the top court in August 2005 after the Wakf Board registered the Taj as Wakf property. The top court then issued notices on ASI's plea and stayed the board's move and the matter is pending since then.