Delhi HC Rejects Prayer for ‘Shab-e-Barat’ at 300-Year-Old Demolished Mosque


The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to authorize prayers at the recently demolished ‘Akhoondji mosque’ and the adjacent graveyard in Mehrauli for the Shab-e-Barat observance. Shab-e-Barat is when Muslims seek forgiveness from Allah for their sins and those of their ancestors.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav, while hearing an application by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board, observed that the court had directed a status quo on the site, now in the possession of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). This application is part of a petition by the committee regarding the demolition.

The bench noted that the main petition, which had been heard on several occasions, is scheduled for final disposal on March 7. “At this juncture, the court is not inclined to issue any directions. The application stands dismissed,” ordered the court.

The ‘Akhoondji mosque’, believed to be over 600 years old, along with the Behrul Uloom madrasa, was declared illegal structures in Sanjay Van and were demolished by the DDA on January 30.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that worshippers, with their families buried in the nearby graveyard, should be allowed to offer prayers there for Shab-e-Barat later this month. The advocate stated that the mosque, centuries-old, had been a site for prayers for many years. Additionally, there was an “active graveyard” utilized by locals, the court was informed.

On February 5, the high court instructed the DDA to maintain the status quo on the site where the mosque once stood.

The petitioner committee contended that the mosque’s demolition was illegal. The DDA, in its defense before the high court, stated that the demolition was carried out following the Religious Committee’s recommendation on January 4. This decision, it argued, came after affording an opportunity for a hearing to the CEO of Delhi Waqf Board. However, the petitioner argued that the Religious Committee lacked jurisdiction to order any demolition action.

On January 31, the court directed the DDA to file a clear reply outlining the action taken concerning the property in question and its basis. It also asked whether any prior notice was given before the demolition.

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