The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Delhi Development Authority to maintain status quo on the land where the centuries-old Akhondji mosque was demolished, Live Law reported.

On January 30, the mosque in the national capital’s Mehrauli neighbourhood was bulldozed along with the Behrul Uloom madrasa by the Delhi Development Authority.

The authority is a statutory body that reports to the Union government. It is responsible for planning and constructing urban projects in the national capital territory.

Following the demolition, the managing committee of the Delhi Waqf Board filed an urgent application before the High Court, contending that the mosque’s Imam Zakir Hussain and his family were left without a shelter as his home was also razed.

Hearing the case on Monday, Justice Sachin Datta ordered that the status quo should remain in force till February 12.

Datta, however, clarified that the status quo applies only to the particular parcel of land where the mosque stood and will not prohibit the Delhi Development Authority from carrying out its actions in adjoining areas.

Advocate Sham Khwaja, appearing for the managing committee, told the court that no demolition notice was given by the authority before it razed the structures, reported Bar and Bench. He also alleged that copies of the Quran were damaged, children enrolled in the madrasa were not allowed to take their belongings and none of the records were protected.

The Delhi Development Authority’s counsel Sanjay Katyal refuted the allegations and said that all religious books are in the custody of the officials. They will be handed back, he said.

Katyal also argued that the demolition was carried out on the recommendation made by the Delhi government’s religious committee on January 4. He said that the managing committee was “trying to give a religious colour to the matter”.

Khwaja responded to the arguments by stating that the chief executive officer of the Delhi Waqf Board had given a written objection against the recommendation to demolish the mosque.

During the hearing on February 1, the Delhi Development Authority told the court that the religious committee had given the Delhi Waqf Board’s chief executive officer an opportunity to argue their side.

The High Court had then told the authority to file a reply within a week, “clearly setting out the action that has been taken in respect of the concerned property and the basis thereof and as to whether any prior notice was given before taking the demolition action”.

According to the Archaeological Survey of India’s records, although the exact date of the Akhondji mosque’s construction is not known, it was repaired around the year 1853. The details about the mosque are recorded in the list of 3,000 monuments published by the agency in 1920.

Also read: Explain why centuries-old mosque was razed, High Court tells Delhi Development Authority