North India

SC orders removal of Waqf mosque from Allahabad High Court premises

The Waqf Masjid High Court and the U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board had challenged the High Court's decision in the Supreme Court.

On March 13, the Supreme Court rejected special leave petitions that contested the Allahabad High Court’s 2017 ruling to remove a mosque from the High Court’s property. The High Court had directed the mosque’s removal to utilize the land for its own purposes, and the Supreme Court affirmed the decision. Justice M.R. Shah led the bench that upheld the High Court’s verdict, stating that the land was required for a public cause and there were valid reasons for the action. The mosque authorities were given a three-month notice by the High Court to evacuate the area.

The Waqf Masjid High Court and the U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board had challenged the Allahabad High Court‘s decision in the Supreme Court. On March 13, the Supreme Court granted an additional three-month period to evacuate the area. The petitioners were allowed to submit a detailed representation requesting an alternate location close by, if possible, for the construction of a mosque, provided the land was not designated for any other public purpose. If the contested structure is not removed within the next three months, the authorities, including the High Court, may remove it. The Supreme Court bench, led by Justice C.T. Ravikumar, based its decision on the fact that the mosque was situated on government lease land that was revoked in 2002. The Supreme Court also recognized that it had previously upheld the High Court’s right to reclaim the land in 2012.

A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar declined to interfere with the high court order and granted three months’ time to the petitioner to remove the mosque from the high court premises. It noted that the high court can demolish the construction, if it is not cleared within three months and also allowed the petitioner, Waqf Masjid High Court to make a representation to the state government for an alternative land.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Waqf Masjid High Court, narrated the history of the mosque and added that Muslims were offering namaz and there was an arrangement for wazu as well. He said that the mosque is situated across the road outside the high court and wrong to say it was on the high court premises.

Sibal added that in 2017, the government changed and a PIL was filed against the mosque after the new government was formed and added that the mosque was functioning as a public mosque for decades.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the UP Sunni Waqf Board, submitted that though the land belonged to the government but the board was in possession of the mosque meant for public use. She added that her client is willing to be given an alternate site, and they are not insisting that namaz has to be offered there.

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