18 Feb 2023 5:24 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing in a plea against a 2017 ruling by the Allahabad High Court, directing the removal of a mosque called Waqf Masjid High Court from its premises for encroachment. Aggrieved by this judgement, the waqf board had moved the apex court in December 2018, which had ordered then status quo to be maintained with respect to the mosque. Yesterday,...
The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing in a plea against a 2017 ruling by the Allahabad High Court, directing the removal of a mosque called Waqf Masjid High Court from its premises for encroachment. Aggrieved by this judgement, the waqf board had moved the apex court in December 2018, which had ordered then status quo to be maintained with respect to the mosque. Yesterday, a division bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar, at the behest of the petitioner-board, directed the matter to be listed on Monday, March 13.
The high court alleged that the waqf was registered only after the lessees, who had originally constructed no more than a ‘tin shed’, lost in the Supreme Court and were directed to hand over possession of encroached land. Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing on behalf of the respondent high court, claimed:
“Originally, there was no masjid at all. The three lessees of the parcel of land were directed to hand over possession in the first round of litigation at the Supreme Court. That is when they created a waqf and got it registered. Now, this waqf board is fighting a legal battle. But, this is simply a matter of encroachment. The original lease was registered in 1996 and renewed in 1998. In either document, there was no mention of a mosque. Even in the first round of litigation, no masjid was mentioned.”
The senior counsel also emphasised that the disputed area was needed to construct the advocate-general’s office as well as the high court’s annexe, which would house the registry and the judges’ chamber. “We badly need the building,” added Uttar Pradesh Additional Advocate-General Garima Prashad, “A fire also broke out at the advocate general's office in front of the court. It has burned down.”
Adjournment was sought on behalf of the board on the ground that the senior counsel was not available. When the issue of adjournment came up, Dwivedi made an emphatic request for the matter to be listed soon. “We have been waiting for the last ten years even after a final judgement of the Supreme Court,” Dwivedi exclaimed.
“It will only be possible to take this after the vacation. Anyway, good things are to be done only after Holi. Humarein yaha kehte hain saamne Holi aahti hain toh achchha kaam nahi karte (It is said where I come from that when Holi is close, nothing auspicious should be done before it),” said Justice Shah, before proceeding to orally dictate the order.
“Put up on March 13. No further time shall be granted on that day on any grounds.”
At the centre of the controversy is a mosque situated within the premises of the Allahabad High Court, which, it has been alleged, was illegally constructed on encroached land. In 2017, the high court had instructed the registrar-general to ensure that no part of its premises, either in Allahabad or in Lucknow, was permitted to be used “for practising religion or offering prayers or to worship or to carry on any religious activity by any group of persons”. “While a citizen has complete freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion of his choice, he cannot claim right to erect structures in the name of religion in an unauthorized manner over public land or over land of others,” a bench headed by the then-chief justice, Dilip B. Bhosale, had observed.
Waqf Masjid High Court v. High Court of Judicature Allahabad Registrar General & Ors. | Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 3085 of 2018
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