New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s response on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Waqf Act of 1995 terming it “manifestly arbitrary and irrational.”
A division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla was hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
Issuing notices and seeking the responses of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, and Law Commission of India in the matter, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 28.
Petitioner Upadhyay was challenging the vires of S. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14 of the Act, stating these provisions grant special status to Waqf properties denying equal status to Trust, Mutts, Akharas, Societies, and confer unbridled powers to Waqf Boards to register any property as Waqf property.
The PIL contended that there is no safeguard for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and other communities to save their properties from inclusion in the list of Waqf issued by Waqf Boards. Therefore, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, Christians, and Zoroastrians are discriminated. It offends Articles 14-15, it said.
“If the impugned Act has been made to protect the rights guaranteed under Articles 29-30 then it has to cover all the minorities i.e., followers of Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and not only Islam,” the plea read.
It further said that states collect around one lakh crore rupees from four lakh temples but there are no similar provisions for Hindus. Thus, the Act offends Article 27.