The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to grant any interim relief to the Delhi Waqf Board in connection with the allotment of property, purportedly owned by it, to Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and sought the Centre's stand on its petition concerning the government's decision to re-examine the de-listing of its 123 properties.
Justice Yahswant Varma said there was no ground to grant a stay and observed that the property was allotted to ITBP sometime in 2017, and in case the Delhi Waqf Board succeeds in the present proceedings, the allotment can be cancelled.
“I'm presently not inclined to grant a stay. This is not a place for stay. It is not like the property has gone to private people. We can ask Union to hand it back,” the judge said.
The property is located in south Delhi's Mathura Road area. The court issued notice on the petition to the Centre, Delhi Development Authority and ITBP Force and directed them to file their response.
The Delhi Waqf Board had moved the high court following the constitution of a two-member committee by the Centre to consider the de-listing of Waqf properties even after a report was submitted by a one-member committee on the same issue in 2017.
Central government counsel Kirtiman Singh opposed the grant of interim relief to the petitioner and said that till now, there has not been any construction on the site in question and the Board can approach the court in case of any future grievances.
He asserted that the Board should participate in the ongoing proceedings before the committee, and the report of a one-member committee, which was rejected on account of being inconclusive, can't be shared with the petitioner.
Lawyer Wajeeh Shafiq, appearing for Waqf Board, urged the court to grant an interim stay concerning the allotment to ITBP and claimed that the petitioner came to know about the allotment only before the filing of the present petition. He claimed that the Centre takes action “in the name of national security” and “we burnt our fingers before” concerning another property.
The lawyer also asked the court to exempt the petitioner's appearance before the present committee, but the court refused to pass an order on this aspect. Justice Varma said he was not hearing the case finally and asked the Centre to file its response.
In the petition, the Delhi Waqf Board has contended that once its properties have been de-listed in 2014 under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, there is no provision under the law for recalling the order of withdrawal from the acquisition.
The petition has further said that the two-member committee is the second such panel appointed by the Centre to re-examine the status of the 123 properties after the one-member committee was formed and emphasised that in the meantime, the Centre transferred one of them in favour of ITBP.
“The whole mala fide purpose of appointment of Committee after Committee is to maintain confusion in respect of the title of the petitioner with regard to these waqf properties...
"Taking advantage of this, the Union of India has transferred a portion of waqf land comprised in Khasra no. 484, Qadeemi Qabistan, Village South Inderpat, Mathura Road-the waqf property mentioned at serial no. 8 of the first list of de-notified waqf properties-to 'Indo Tibetan Border Police',” the petition filed through lawyer Wajeeh Shafiq has contended.
The petition claimed that the properties in question are “registered and Gazette notified Waqf properties since more than half a century”, have never been under the possession or control of the government and never has their religious use been changed or even paused. It has asserted that the properties are governed by the provisions of the Waqf Act, 1995 which prohibits their alienation.
The Delhi Waqf Board has challenged the transfer of its property to ITBP and sought a direction of the Centre to take a fresh decision on the report of the one-member committee after affording a reasonable opportunity to it to make submissions. The matter would be heard next on April 28.
With PTI inputs.