India's Supreme Court on Friday trashed a petition to open the sealed doors of the ancient monument of Taj Mahal, terming it "publicity interest litigation" and refused to interfere with a direction passed by the Allahabad high court in May saying it will not entertain the plea which demanded scientific proof to establish that the 17th-century structure was indeed built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan.
The petitioner Rajneesh Singh, a dentist by profession, approached the Supreme Court challenging the May 12 order passed by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court which found the petition a "mockery" in the name of public interest litigation.
Dismissing the appeal filed by Singh, the bench of justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh said, "The high court made no error in dismissing your petition. This is more of 'publicity' interest litigation."
Singh wanted an order to open the 22 closed rooms in the Taj Mahal to ascertain the presence of any Hindu idols. He was guided by the belief, as he had argued in the high court, that the place where the monument stood was once a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as Tejo Mahalaya, a conspiracy theory that has been voiced previously.
The high court found no grounds to entertain the plea and said, "Right to get a research or study is not made out. It's an area for researchers or academicians and not for Court." The high court dismissed the petition as thoroughly misconceived: "Verdict on historical aspects cannot be given by court."
Following the high court order, Singh also wrote to the Union culture ministry and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to constitute a fact-finding committee of experts to examine the documents related to the sale of land on which Taj Mahal was built by the Rajput king Raja Jai Singh to Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.
Singh claimed to be associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Ayodhya unit and demanded in his petition that a committee of experts examine whether idols of Hindu gods or ancient inscriptions existed in the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal.
In May this year, ASI said the rooms were not sealed but merely locked to prevent unauthorised entry. ASI also published on its website, a copy of its January newsletter showing before-after photographs of some of the locked rooms where restoration work was carried out.