The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Delhi Waqf Board to file a separate substantive petition to challenge the Centre’s decision to take away 123 waqf properties.
Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri refused to grant any interim relief in the board’s application filed in a pending petition challenging the Centre’s decision to re-examine the de-listing of its 123 properties.
“You file a fresh substantive petition to challenge the Centre’s February 8 letter,” the judge told the counsel for the board and listed the application along with the pending petition on August 4.
The Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) recently decided to take over 123 properties of the Delhi Waqf Board, including mosques, dargah and graveyards, based on the report of a two-member committee.
Board chairman Amanatullah Khan has said the report of the committee was not shared with the board, and added that a case challenging its formation was already pending in the high court.
The deputy L&DO, in a letter to Khan on February 8, had informed about the decision to absolve the Delhi Waqf Board from all matters related to the 123 properties based on the two-member committee report.
During the hearing in the high court, senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the board, contended that the Centre has no source of power to absolve the board from the properties.
He said these properties were clearly demarcated through four surveys conducted in 1970, 1974, 1976 and 1984 and were later assented by the President that they were waqf properties.
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Mehra said under the statutory scheme, there is no concept of central or state government to absolve the properties from the board.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, opposed the plea saying the challenge to the letter by way of this application was totally beyond the scope of the pending petition.
The board’s counsel urged the court to grant interim protection till filing of a fresh petition.
The judge said, “What prevents you from filing the petition today. File it and it will be listed soon.”
Khan has claimed that the ministry earlier formed a one-member committee and later the two-member panel but reports of these committees were not shared with the board.
He has said that the 123 properties, including mosques, dargah and graveyards were being used by the Muslim community and they would not be allowed to be occupied by the Centre.
He has also rejected the two-member committee’s claim that the board did not present its view regarding the 123 properties.
A case was filed in the high court challenging the formation of the committee and it was also informed about the same with a request to hold its proceedings, Khan has said.