Hearing a plea by the Delhi Waqf Board challenging the demolition order of an ancient mosque alongside on Lodhi Road in New Delhi, for use of the land by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a single judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva has directed the Delhi Government to expeditiously fill up vacancies in the Delhi Waqf Tribunal - which is supposed to adjudicate the land dispute in this regard.
The plea alleged that on Mar 31, the SHO of Basti Nizamuddin PS had visited the mosque and said that it was going to be demolished as per directions of the authorities for use of the area for the CRPF canteen, barracks for men and parking of CRPF vehicles, and therefore asked the Imam to vacate the mosque - despite the fact that a land dispute in this regard was pending adjudication before the Delhi Waqf Tribunal.
Seeking protection from such demolition, the Waqf Board moved the Delhi High Court claiming that the land in question has been occupied by the Lal Masjid and its graveyard "since time immemorial", but the land of the graveyard was taken by the authorities in 2017, since when a dispute in this regard was pending.
The Board further alleged that the 2017 dispute was still not decided due to faults with the constitution of the Tribunal which is meant to hear the matter, and that even though the Tribunal was made functional and appointments were made after court orders, it had again stopped operations since December due to problems in its constitution and a vacancy of two members.
Earlier, seeking to take instructions in the matter, Adv. Farman Ali for the CRPF, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union of India had sought adjournment on the ground that he needed to take instructions on the matter, upon which, the court had directed for status quo to be maintained on demolition, and said, "I will give you as much time as you want, but don't change the status. We will have it tomorrow, but you should not come tomorrow and say, 'Sorry, we have demolished the building'. I will then haul up your officials for contempt."
To this, Ali had replied that they were not going to take any adverse steps in a day.
The Delhi government, represented by Adv. Jawahar Raja, had informed the court that the appointments against the vacancies in the Tribunal would be completed within 4 weeks, which statement was taken on record by the court.
Directing expeditious action in the matter today, the court has posted the matter for further hearing on Apr 29.