A division bench of justice R Mahadevan and justice J Sathya Narayana Prasad made the observations while disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by R Sundararajan, secretary of the Rockfort Welfare Association, seeking for a direction to remove the construction put up in the protected area of the Pallava cave temple at Rockfort in Trichy district.
The court is of the view that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the competent authority under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, to state, whether the construction put up by a private party in the protected site, would jeopardise the visibility of and access to the site, the judges said.
Hence, they directed the ASI to consider the representation of the petitioner and inspect the area and submit a report. If the report discloses that the construction would cause prejudice to the temple, the authorities shall take necessary action for removal of the same, said the judges while disposing of the petition.
According to the petitioner, the cave temple is a notified ancient monument and has been in existence from 6th Century AD. A private party has started a huge construction very close to the temple by digging the earth up to a depth of 15 feet. If the construction is permitted to be continued, the entire monument will be blocked from public view.
The joint commissioner of the HR and CE department submitted that the executive officer of the temple granted lease of the property in favour of the private party. When it was noticed that the party was making some construction, the executive officer in 2012 directed to stop any work and accordingly the party stopped further work. The structure put up by the private party has not caused any hindrance to the appearance of the monumental site.