Just three days ahead of the Allahabad High Court hearing of a plea seeking the opening of 22 closed rooms inside the Taj Mahal, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) tweeted a link to their January edition of this year’s newsletter which had pictures from the underground cells. The title of the pictures highlighted the work done by the central body in order to preserve the underground rooms situated right adjacent to the Yamuna river.
“The work of maintenance of underground cells on the river side was taken up. Decayed and disintegrated lime plaster was removed and replaced by laying of lime plaster and traditional lime processing before application”, the ASI newsletter mentioned.
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had rejected a petition requesting a fact-finding committee to “find the truth” behind the closed rooms and look into the history of the Taj Mahal. The HC, in its ruling, said, “The plea to constitute a fact-finding committee to find out the ‘real truth’ behind the Taj Mahal is a non-justiciable issue. The prayers cannot be adjudicated upon by this court.”
“For the prayer regarding opening up of the rooms, the historical research ought to involve a proper methodology. This should be left to the historians,” the HC observed.
The HC said that the plea seeking opening up of closed doors inside the Taj Mahal’s basement doesn’t fall under the purview of the Right to Information act. “Asking for a fact-finding committee to look into this issue does not fall under the purview of your [petitioner] rights. It does not fall under the ambit of Right to Information,” the HC said in its order.
The petition was filed by BJP leader Rajneesh Singh. The HC’s order came days after BJP MP Diya Kumari, who supported the petition, alleged that the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan on land that belonged to a Jaipur ruler Jai Singh.
After the HC order, the ASI officials clarified that there was no mystery to be unraveled in those closed rooms as the structure is reminiscent of many Mughal-era constructions including that of Humayun’s tomb in Delhi.