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Whom does the Taj Mahal belongs to? Where is the proof?

Only in India.

Only in India do such questions and fights do take place. Don’t the monuments and the precious antiques of India belong to Indians as a whole?

Why can’t we just enjoy the beauty, magnificence and the history behind them without having to divide it between the various religions and caste groups?

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board, which is battling the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for ownership of Taj Mahal, was on Tuesday asked by the Supreme Court to produce documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to prove its claim over the monument.

 “Who in India will believe that the Taj Mahal belongs to the Waqf Board? How did Mughal emperor Shah Jahan sign the waqfnama? When was it given to you,” a three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, asked the Board.

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The board has a week to produce the signatures of the emperor who died in 1666, almost 18 years after the monument he built in the memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, was completed.

Wakf is an endowment of land or property by a Muslim for a religious, educational or charitable purpose.

The Waqf Board had in 2005 ordered that the Taj Mahal be registered as its own property, a decision against which the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) petitioned the Supreme Court in 2010. The apex court then imposed a stay on the Waqf Board’s order.

“Taj Mahal belonged to the Waqf Board since Shah Jahan’s time and it is a property under the Waqfnama,” Board’s advocate VV Giri told the apex court.

“Then you show us the original deed executed by Shah Jahan. Show us the signature,” the bench shot back, granting a week’s time at Giri’s request.

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CJI Misra, however, had a few questions for the board.

“Shah Jahan used to view the Taj Mahal from his cell in Agra Fort where he was sent to serve house arrest by his son Aurangzeb. How did he sign the waqfnama while in custody? Show us the documents signed by the emperor,” country’s top judge said.

Shah Jahan died in the Agra Fort where he was put under house arrest by son Aurangzeb in July 1658 following a bitter war of succession.

The bench also reminded the board that the 17th-century monument and other heritage structures built by the Mughals passed on to the British after the end of the Mughal rule. After Independence, the monuments vested with the government and were being managed by ASI.

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ASI advocate ADN Rao said there was no wakfnama. “Under the 1858 proclamation, the properties were taken over from the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the British vested with the Queen. By the 1948 act, the buildings were taken over by the Indian government,” he said.

The board had in July 2005 given the order on a petition filed by one Mohammad Irfan Bedar. Bedar had moved the Allahabad high court because the board delayed its decision on the petition he filed in 1998. It was on the high court’s order that the board looked at his petition and claimed ownership of the Taj.

Earlier last month, the SC had directed the UP state government to place before it a draft of vision document on protection and preservation of Taj and environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).


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