Friday, December 1, 2023

Delhi High Court directs Delhi Waqf Board to file separate plea on Centre delisting of 123 disputed properties

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The High Court of Delhi on Wednesday directed the Delhi Waqf Board to file a separate petition against the Union of India for allegedly absolving the board from all matters pertaining to 123 properties, which have been under dispute for a long time.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri refused to pass an urgent order in the application, which was filed in a last year’s pending petition assailing the Union of India’s decision to delist the 123 properties.

The Bench asked the Board to file a separate substantive petition to challenge the letter and listed the application with the pending petition for hearing on August 4.

The application filed by DWB had challenged the February 8 letter of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Representing the DWB, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra submitted that the Union of India had no power under the statutory scheme to absolve the Board from the properties in question.

He argued that the properties were clearly demarcated vide four surveys conducted in 1970, 1974, 1976 and 1984 and later assented by the President of India that they were waqf properties.

The Senior Counsel contended that since 1911 and thereafter till date, when the letter had come up, these properties were admittedly waqf properties, concerned with the waqf board, to be controlled and managed by the board under the Delhi Waqf Act.

He further said that under the complete statutory scheme, there was no concept of either the Central or the State Government absolving the properties from the Board.

Representing the Union government, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma submitted that the prayers in the application filed by the Board were totally beyond the scope of the pending petition.

He referred to various orders passed by the court, wherein the Board’s application seeking stay of the two-member committee, which was looking into the status of the properties and a revision plea, were dismissed.

Calling it a substantive writ petition, the Counsel Counsel said that once the report of the committee under challenge was given to them, they would look into it.

However, it could not be done by this application, he added. 

(Case Title: Delhi Waqf Board vs Union of India & Ors)

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