New Delhi: Socio-religious organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind approached the Delhi High Court on Friday to oppose a petition challenging certain Waqf Act provisions that grant a special status to waqf properties.
Petitioner and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said he is “objecting to the intervention” and claimed that the applicant body is a “separatist organisation” that had “supported triple talaq”.
He also informed the court that he will seek a transfer of his plea to the Supreme Court on account of the pendency of other similar matters there.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the petitioner to file his reply to the impleadment application moved by Jamiat and directed that the matter be called for hearing on November 4.
“Let notice be also issued to the Central Waqf Council,” the court said.
The lawyer appearing for the applicant said the petition would impact the entire institution of waqf in the country and all the state waqf boards should be heard before any order is passed by the court.
The petition, while assailing certain provisions of the Waqf Act, has sought a direction to the Centre to enact a “uniform law for trust and trustees, charities and charitable institutions, and religious endowments and institutions” and claimed that waqf properties cannot enjoy any “special rights”that have not been given to the trusts, charitable and religious institutions run by non-Islamic religious groups.
In its application filed through lawyer M R Shamsad, the applicant said it is a “premier” and “renowned” organisation that has played a crucial role in the enactment of the Muslim personal law and the “petitioner, with ulterior motives, has filed the present petition, raising concocted contentions pressing upon wrong and misleading reading of the law in place qua waqf”.
The petition has made “false and mischievous” statements and not made all the stakeholders parties to the proceedings, which reflects his “mala fide action” it added.
“The institution of waqf is well recognised in our country with a comprehensive legal mechanism in place for the same. ‘Waqf’ refers to Muslim religious endowments and institutions of various kinds recognised all over the world as an Islamic tradition of merit, charity and philanthropy,” the application stated.
Asserting that the petition is not maintainable and is liable to be dismissed with exemplary costs, the applicant contended: “The petitioner has filed innumerable petitions challenging almost all civil law-related issues and practices which have something to do with Muslims in India. The line of petitions before the courts in India is being used by him as a tool to harass Muslims as a ‘community’.”
In his plea, the petitioner has argued that the special status granted to waqf properties is manifestly arbitrary, irrational and offends Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.
“Petitioner is challenging the validity of provisions of Waqf Act 1995, which is made under the garb of managing waqf properties but there are no similar laws for followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Hence, it is against the secularism, unity and integrity of the nation,” the petition says.
“The Waqf Act has given wide and uncontrolled powers to waqf boards and waqf properties have been placed over and above other charitable religious institutions. No other enactment has conferred such wide powers and status,” it says.
“The board has been given power to decide as to whether a particular property is a waqf property or not and under section 40, it can question any property belonging to any trust or society and has power to declare the same as waqf property. No safeguard has been given to the persons whose properties are being treated as waqf property by the Waqf Board and even they have no occasion or opportunity to know about the decision, if any, passed by Waqf Board under section 40,” the petition says.
The petitioner has also argued that the creation of the Waqf Tribunal is arbitrary and that every dispute of civil nature must be decided by a civil court.