HC stays nod to al­low her­itage dig at church

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - Ajay.Sura@ times­group.com

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.

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