Thursday, Nov 13, 2003
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By Our Legal Correspondent
In an affidavit, filed in response to a public interest litigation petition filed by Rajeev Sethi and others pointing to numerable flaws in the restoration work done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Centre said the work had in no way affected the monument.
When the matter was taken up this morning, the Chief Justice, V.N. Khare, and Justice S.B. Sinha took exception to the manner in which an advocate clerk had sworn an affidavit filed by the petitioners by way of reply to the ASI affidavit.
Senior counsel for the petitioners, Kapil Sibal, agreed with the Bench that it was a serious mistake. The Bench directed the petitioner to withdraw the affidavit and file a fresh one by a responsible person and posted the matter for Friday. The Solicitor-General, Kirit N. Raval, submitted that the work, going on for over a year, was nearing completion and wondered why the petitioners were filing this now. The ASI had taken up the restoration work of important monuments only after the Union Cabinet approved a proposal for giving them a facelift under the programme.
The ASI submitted that the idea of undertaking the renovation work was to preserve the rich cultural heritage and provide better facilities at the monument.It said ``before the Red Fort was brought under the ambit of the new initiative, the conditions prevailing were deplorable. Shabby structures, ugly stalls with loose and hanging wires presented a sad scene''.
The ASI said even the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in his Independence Day speech appreciated the effort and asked the body to expand its work to villages and towns.
The ASI said that it had the technical expertise to undertake the renovation work at the Red Fort and sought the dismissal of the petition.
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