On Friday (February 17), the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs posted notices outside 123 properties in Delhi, stating that they are no longer considered properties of the Delhi Waqf Board.
The said properties include mosques, dargahs, and a cemetery. Prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, these properties were given to the Delhi Waqf Board by the Congress-led UPA government. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad raised concerns about the prominent locations of these properties and approached the court.
Two committees were formed to hear from the affected parties, including a 1-member committee and a 2-member committee comprising a former judge of the Delhi High Court and a retired SDM.
123 Waqf Properties” पर पहले ही अदालत में हमने आवाज़ उठाई है,High Court में हमारी Writ Petition No.1961/2022 पेंडिंग है।
कुछ लोगों द्वारा इसके बारे में झूठ फैलाया जा रहा है, इसका सबूत आप सबके सामने है। हम वक़्फ़ बोर्ड की Properties पर किसी भी तरह का क़ब्ज़ा नहीं होने देंगे। pic.twitter.com/UcW3rc0xJl
— Amanatullah Khan AAP (@KhanAmanatullah) February 17, 2023
The 2-member committee’s report stated that the Delhi Waqf Board had been given the opportunity to present its case but had not done so within the prescribed time. As a result, the Board was absolved of all matters relating to the 123 properties.
The committee also recommended a physical inspection of the said 123 properties. Following the development, AAP leader Amanatullah Khan tweeted, “We have already raised our voice in the court on 123 Waqf Properties, our Writ Petition No.1961/2022 is pending in the High Court. Some people are spreading lies about it, the proof of this is in front of all of you.”
He further added, “We will not allow any kind of encroachment on the properties of the Waqf Board.” The Delhi Waqf Board has written an official letter to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and has challenged the formation of the 2-member committee.
The timeline of the case: Congress handed 123 properties to Delhi Waqf Board
In 2014, the Central government exercised its powers under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 to denotify 123 properties from the land acquisition process. The said properties were to be handed over to the Delhi Waqf Board.
The government notification was subsequently challenged by the Indraprastha Vishwa Hindu Parishad. In the same year, a Delhi court passed an order asking the Centre to listen to the grievances of the stakeholders and make a decision.
Two years later in 2016, a one-member committee was constituted by the Centre to decide on the issue. In 2017, the one-member committee submitted its report. The Delhi High Court had observed on February 10 this year that the Qabristan Qadeem was undisputedly handed over to the ITBP in 2017.
“The Waqf Board earlier told the court that they learnt about the transfer of property only in 2017 in a different case. Its application sought stay on any activity at the graveyard,” reported The Indian Express.
Thereafter in August 2018, the Centre constituted a 2-member committee to decide on the fate of the 123 properties. The Delhi Waqf Board had alleged that the one-member committee report was never made public and that the Union government arbitrarily appointed a 2-member committee to re-examine the properties’ status.
The Centre in its defence told the Delhi High Court that the report of the one-man committee was inconclusive and therefore a 2-member committee was constituted. It, however, refused to share the said report with the Delhi Waqf Board.
In November 2021, a public notice was issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), seeking public representation with respect to the disputed properties.
In March 2022, the Delhi High Court refused to provide relief to the Delhi Waqf Board, which had filed a petition against the delisting of its 123 alleged properties by the Centre.