The Supreme Court on Monday directed authorities to demolish a mosque constructed in Allahabad High Court’s premises within 3 months while hearing a special leave petition filed by the Waqf Masjid High Court and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenging a November 2017 order for its demolition. At the time, the Allahabad High Court had given the boards three months to demolish the mosque.
The apex court stated that the mosque stood in a terminated lease property and hence could not be claimed as a matter of right by the petitioners. It however permitted them to make a representation to the UP govt for an alternate land nearby for construction of the mosque which could be considered if the law permits and if the lands are not required for any public purpose at present or in the future.
The mosque was constructed on a government lease land, the grant for which was canceled in 2002. In 2004, the land was resumed in favor of the Allahabad High Court. In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the resumption of the land. Hearing the petition, the Supreme Court said the petitioners did not have any legal right over the premises.
Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the mosque committee said that the mosque had been there since the 1950s. “The government changed in 2017, and everything changed. A PIL was filed ten days after the new government was formed. We have no problems with shifting to an alternative place as long as they give it to us”, he said.
The petitioners argued that the mosque was privately built but later dedicated to the public and registered with the Waqf board, thus becoming a Waqf property. However, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the HC said that unnecessary religious color was being given to the issue. He said that the mosque administration got it registered with Waqf in 2002 with the aim of delaying the demolition.
“Twice there were renewal applications, and there was no whisper at all that the mosque was constructed, and it was used for the public. They sought renewal saying it was needed for residential purposes. The mere fact that they are offering namaz will not make it a mosque. If namaz is allowed for convenience in the Supreme Court verandah or HC verandah, it will not become a mosque”, Dwivedi added in favor of the HC.
The Allahabad high court has maintained that it does not have an alternative plot of land within the premises to relocate the mosque and the state may consider shifting it to another area. It also said there was already a shortage of space for parking within the premises.