Delhi HC issues notice to Centre over unlawful claim of Waqf properties violating 1984 court ordertext_fields
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Centre over 123 properties in the national capital that are being unlawfully claimed as Waqf properties.
The court had previously ruled in 1984 that these properties should remain under government ownership. However, in 2014, the Congress government during the announcement of Lok Sabha elections had transferred the properties to Waqf despite the court's stay on them.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued the notice and listed the matter for hearing on July 26.
The petition filed by Simran Gupta on March 8 this year through her lawyers Rudra Vikram Singh, Shiv Shankar Parasar and P.K. Raghav sought to ensure compliance with the court's order dated June 1, 1984, which explicitly stated that the 123 properties belonged to the government and should be retained as such.
"Furthermore, a stay order was issued to halt any further actions in this matter in 1984. The petitioner has pointed out that on March 5, 2014, during the announcement of elections, an illegitimate and arbitrary notification was passed by the Congress government, wrongfully transferring these properties to Waqf," said advocate Singh.
"The petitioner filed this PIL concerning the compliance of an order dated June 1, 1984 by this court. In the said order, it was explicitly stated that possession should be retained by the Union of India. This order remains in effect and has never been halted or vacated at any stage.
"However, due to the illegal previous notification dated March 5, 2014, and for the government's inaction, there has been no compliance with that order. Furthermore, the Union of India, in its notice dated February 8, 2023, stated these properties as Waqf properties. This action violates the rights of the general public and goes against the secular nature and spirit of our Constitution," read the petition.
"There have already been significant losses to public funds, and the ongoing losses to the public exchequer must be stopped by this court at this stage in the interest of the general public," urged the plea.
The petitioner had earlier challenged the notification dated March 5, 2014, issued under Section 93 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 (referred to as the '2013 Act'), in which the high court has already issued notice to the Centre.
"The petitioner has also challenged the public notice dated March 10, 2021, by the two-member committee and the Delhi Gazette Publication dated April 16, 1970, and December 31, 1970, by the Delhi Waqf Board regarding the 123 government properties all over Delhi," said advocate Singh.
"These 123 government properties are presently encroached upon by encroachers, despite the order dated June 1, 1984, which clearly stated that 'possession should be retained by the government'," read the petition.
"Several property numbers and names have been changed to create confusion for the revenue officials. It is further submitted that without a valid Waqf deed, no property can be established as Waqf's. In the case of these properties, neither the encroachers nor the Delhi Waqf Board possess any Waqf deed from any period prior to 1911," the petition stated.
"It is also submitted that without quashing the previous notification and directions by the court, which require a proper actual survey of the properties, the process of determining the actual owner and evacuating the encroachments cannot be accomplished. This process should be carried out with time-bound directions from this court," the petition added.