The Bombay High Court on Wednesday ruled that the exclusion of jurisdiction of civil courts over cases relating to a Wakf property would not extend beyond the bar prescribed in Sections 6(5), 7 and 85 of the Wakf Act, 1995.
Justice RV Ghuge of the Aurangabad bench heard a writ petition filed by Syed Abdulla, a 75-year-old labour from Nanded district who had raised an issue as to whether Civil Courts would have jurisdiction to deal with a suit purely filed for injunction in connection with a wakf property.
The petitioner had raised this aforesaid objection as a defendant in a suit filed by 78-year-old Rajeshwar Deshpande from Yeotmal district. Based on this, trial court framed a preliminary issue regarding jurisdiction and adjudicated the preliminary issue under Order XIV of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though the suit property is a wakf property, in a judgement dated June 11, 2018, trial court held that the suit is maintainable. Thereafter, Abdulla filed a writ petition against the trial court's judgement.
Court appointed Advocate Ajay Deshpande as Amicus Curiae in the matter.
Deshpande cited the following judgements of the Supreme Court in order to substantiate the position of law as of today-
1) Ramesh Gobindram (dead) through Lrs. vs. Sugra Humayun Mirza Wakf
2) Board of Wakf, West Bengal and another vs. Anis Fatma Begum and another
3) Lal Shah Baba Dargah Trust vs. Magnum Developers and others
4) Punjab Wakf Board vs. Sham Singh Harike
In Ramesh Gobindram (supra), Supreme Court held that the bar introduced by Section 85 of the Wakf Act, 1995 read with Section 83, would not push the exclusion of jurisdiction of civil courts to the extent beyond the prescription of Section 6(5), Section 7 and Section 85.
After examining the judgements cited by the Amicus Curiae, Justice Ghuge observed-
"It is, therefore, concluded that the matters which would fall within the prescription of Section 6(1) r/w 6(5) of the Wakf Act, 1995, would not be entertained by the Civil Courts and any issue, decision on which is prescribed by Section 6(1), would exclusively be dealt with by the Wakf Tribunal and the Civil Court's jurisdiction would then be excluded."
Court accepted the Amicus curiae's submission that the law does not hold that the moment there is a wakf property involved in a matter, the jurisdiction of the Civil Court would be ousted. Merely because the property is a wakf property, would not oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court, Court said.