HC seeks Centre’s stand on plea against validity of Waqf Act

A view of Delhi High Court

A view of Delhi High Court | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre and the Central Waqf Council to respond to a petition seeking to declare that the Waqf Act is in violation of the Constitution and that private properties of citizens can only be governed by a uniform civil code.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla gave the direction on the petition filed by Devendra Nath Tripathi, who argued that the management of Waqf properties is essentially done on religious lines and the State is not permitted to regulate the same for one religion in exclusion of others.

Mr. Tripathi said in his petition that the Centre does not have the legislative competence to make laws such as the Waqf Act. “The Waqf Act, 1995 is arbitrary as the legislature doesn’t have the required competence to make such laws under entry 10 or 28 of the concurrent list of 7th Schedule and therefore, the same must be struck down by this Court,” his plea said.

“A welfare State managing the religious Waqf properties is a direct violation of the scheme of the Constitution and more particularly Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, apart from in breach of the Preamble,” the petition added.

Mr. Tripathi challenged the validity of inter-alia sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, and 16(a) of the Waqf Act, 1995 through his petition, citing that these provisions grant special status to Waqf properties, therefore denying equal status to other non-Muslims and conferring unbridled powers to Waqf Boards through Tribunals constituted under the Act.

‘Against secularism’

In April, the High Court had asked the Centre to respond to another petition challenging certain provisions of the Waqf Act that grant special status to Waqf properties. According to the plea, filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, these provisions are against the principles of “secularism, unity and integrity of the nation”.

In his petition, Mr. Upadhyay argued that the Waqf Act was against the idea of secularism as there were no such provisions for the followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

Mr. Upadhyay said India has around 6.6 lakh registered Waqf properties that account for around eight lakh acres of land throughout the country, adding that this makes Waqfs the third largest landholder after the Railways and Ministry of Defence.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 11:35:54 am |