HC stays nod to allow heritage dig at church
Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana high court has stayed the orders of the Haryana archaeology department allowing excavation of an ancient three-storey baoli (stepwell) within the premises of the Believers Church at Dhumaspur in Gurgaon. Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain of the high court also issued notices to the Haryana government as well as the archaeology department and sought their reply by July 17 to a petition filed by the Believers Church. The church has alleged that the excavation was launched by the Haryana archaeology department within its premises without taking any prior approval from the central government.
The petition challenged the January 21, 2018 notice issued by the Haryana government to the church management under Section 22 of the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeology and Remains Act, 1964.
Senior advocate Gurminder Singh, appearing for the church, submitted that Section 22 of the Act is subject to the provisions of Section 24 of the Indian Monuments Act, 1958. According to Section 22, if an archeological officer has reasons to believe that any area, not being a protected area, contains ruins or relics of historical importance, the officer may, after giving notice in writing to the director and the owner, enter and make excavations in the area. However, a prior approval of the central government must be obtained, which is conspicuously absent in the present case, Gurminder argued.