The Indian Express

Will not take any action till April 29, Centre tells Delhi High Court on question of Lal Masjid demolition

The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it will take no further action till April 29 with regard to Lal Masjid, an ancient mosque situated near Lodhi road, as it sought time to respond to Delhi Waqf Board’s petition against proposed demolition of the mosque. The board has approached the court contending that the mosque has been notified as its property in 1970 and the dispute regarding title of the land is pending before the Waqf Tribunal.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, while adjourning the hearing to April 29, also said that the Delhi government is expected to proceed expeditiously toward filling up the member-position vacancies in the tribunal. With regard to the proposed demolition, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma earlier submitted before the court that “nothing will happen” in the meantime.

The court had on Tuesday asked the Centre and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to inform it whether they have any plans to demolish the mosque. Senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose, representing the Waqf board, had argued that the matter is pending before the Waqf Tribunal but the case has not been decided yet due to repeated adjournments and also because the statutory body is not functional as two member-positions in it have remained vacant since December 2020.

According to the petition filed through advocate Wajeeh Shafiq, a Muslim graveyard alongwith the Masjid alongside the Link Road, village Aliganj, have been declared as Waqf properties in 1970 but the graveyard has been taken over by the CRPF and the mosque alone is surving at present. The dispute with CRPF regarding the land in question has been pending before the tribunal since 2017 but due to the defect in constitution of the statutory body, the matter has been adjourned to July 29, it adds.

The petition seeks a direction for reconstituting the tribunal in terms of the provisions of the Waqf Act. The Delhi government on Tuesday had told the court that the matter regarding nomination of the members of the tribunal is pending at the ministerial level and appointments are likely to be notified within four weeks. Ghose on Wednesday sought a direction for expeditious filling up of the vacancies and said four weeks is a long time.

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