Delhi HC allows Centre to inspect 123 de-listed waqf properties

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amanatullah khan AAP Waqf Board Properties

Waqf board chairman Amanatullah Khan

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has allowed the Centre to carry out inspection of 123 delisted properties taken over from the Delhi Waqf Board while ensuring minimal disruption in their day-to-day administration by the body.


Earlier this year, the Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) had decided to take over 123 properties from the Board, which included mosques, dargah and graveyards, based on the report of a two-member committee.

The deputy L&DO in a letter to Board chairman Amanatullah Khan on February 8 had informed about the decision to absolve the Delhi Waqf Board from all matters related to the 123 properties based on the committee report.

In a recent order, Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri issued notice on the petition by board against the Centre's move to de-list these 123 properties and said the applications filed by the petitioner for interim relief of stay would be kept pending for disposal after the completion of pleadings in the matter.


The Centre said at this stage, it was confining its request only to the physical inspection of the properties in question, after which all the relevant material would be placed before the competent authority.

"In view thereof, pending a final decision in the present petition, respondent may act upon its letter dated 08.02.2023 to carry out the inspection while ensuring minimal disruption in the day-to-day administration of the subject properties by the petitioners,” said the court in a recent order.

The court noted that although the matter has been “heard in some detail', the issue dates back to 1911 and it would be appropriate to call for a detailed counter affidavit from the Centre as well as hear the petitioner board.


“This calls for a more detailed hearing as the issues at hand involve complex facts and legally nuanced arguments advanced by the parties,” observed the court as it listed the case for hearing on November 2.

The Centre has opposed the Board's claim over the 123 properties, saying the Board has no stake in them as they were acquired pursuant to land acquisition proceedings initiated between 1911 and 1914 and the mutation was carried out in its favour.

The Board has contended that the properties have always been with it and the Centre has no power to "absolve" it of them, while urging the court to direct the maintenance of status quo as an interim measure at this stage.


In its reply to the petition challenging the take-over, the Centre has stated that all 123 waqf properties were acquired pursuant to land acquisition proceedings between 1911 and 1914, compensation was paid, possession was taken and mutation was carried out in its favour.

It has also claimed that possession has always been with the Centre and these acquisitions have attained finality and have been used for creating infrastructure.

"In terms of the undisputable and incontrovertible position on record, the properties in question were the subject matter of land acquisition proceedings between 1911 and 1914, pursuant to which these 123 properties were acquired, compensation was paid, possession was taken and mutation was carried out in favour of Government," the reply has said.


"The property so acquired were thereafter used for the purposes of creating infrastructure and buildings etc. that are now identified as the urban scape of Delhi. It is, therefore, submitted that the allegation on behalf of the Petitioners that they have always retained possession is clearly misconceived," it added.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Board, has argued that the petitioner has been in "continuous possession known to one and all" in relation to the properties and the law grants no power to the Centre to take away waqf properties.

The Centre has asserted that the petition was without merit and deserved to be rejected.


It has also alleged that the petitioner has "no interest" in the said properties as it never appeared before the committee looking into the issue of acquisition.

Earlier, the Board, also represented by lawyer Wajeeh Shafiq, has argued that all 123 properties cannot be now taken away on the basis of the report of the two-member committee that has not even been supplied to it.

It has submitted that the dispute pertaining to the properties is over 100 years old and the Centre, in the present case, "outsourced" the decision-making to the committee which wrongly concluded the Board has no interest in the properties in spite of representations made to it.

It was earlier claimed that these 123 properties were clearly demarcated through four surveys conducted in 1970, 1974, 1976 and 1984 and were later assented by the President that they were waqf properties.