The Allahabad High Court has quashed the decision of the UP Government in extending the term of U P Sunni Central Waqf Board amidst COVID 19 Pandemic.
Two Petitions were filed before the Allahabad High Court challenging the validity of orders dated 1st July, 2020 and 30th September, 2020 passed by Principal Secretary to the Government of U.P., Department of Minority Welfare and Waqf. Under the orders aforesaid, the State Government extended the term of U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board.
Earlier due to non holding of election due to lockdown to combat COVID19 Pandemic, the State Government extended the term of Waqf Board upto 31 March 2021.
The Petitioners contended that there is no provision under the Waqf Act 1995 empowering State Government to extend the term of elected Board.
A Division Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Hon’ble Justice S S Shamshrey held that under the Disaster Management Act 2005, either the National Authority or the State Authority have power to lay down plan for Disaster Management and there is no such decision for deferring election of small bodies like Waqf Board.
The Court observed that:
“Elections for a democratically elected body are sine qua non for application of democratic values and working of the institution accordingly. Such functioning should have not been compromised at any cost. Election of such body could be deferred only in most emergent and extraordinary circumstances.”
Accordingly the Writ Petition has been disposed off by setting aside the order dated 30 September 2020 and the Court appointed Principal Secretary, Government of U.P., Department of Minority Welfare and Waqf as Administrator of the Sunni Central Waqf Board to manage day today affairs of the Board. The Administrator shall hold the elections on or before 28 February 2021.