PIL filed in Delhi HC against Waqf Act
Plea calls for uniform law for trusts
New Delhi: A public interest litigation has been filed in the Delhi High Court challenging certain provisions of the Waqf Act which grant special status to Waqf properties.
Petitioner and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought a direction to the Centre to enact “only Uniform Law for Trust and Trustees, Charities and Charitable Institutions, and Religious Endowments and Institutions” and claimed that Waqf properties cannot enjoy any “special rights” which have not been given to other trusts, charitable and religious institutions being run by non-Islamic religious group.
“Petitioner is challenging the validity of provisions of Waqf Act 1995, which is made under the garb of managing Waqf properties but there are no similar laws for followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism & Christianity. Hence, it is against the secularism, unity and integrity of the nation,” the petition has said.
The petitioner also submitted that the special status granted to Waqf properties is manifestly arbitrary, irrational and offends Articles 14, 15 of the Constitution.
“The Waqf Act has given wide and uncontrolled powers to Waqf Boards and Waqf Properties have been placed over and above other charitable religious institutions. No other enactment has conferred such wide powers and status,” the petition has said.
“The Board has been given power to decide as to whether a particular property is a Waqf property or not and under section 40 it can question any property belonging to any trust or society and has power to declare the same as Waqf property. No safeguard has been given to the persons whose property are being treated as Waqf property by the Waqf board and even they have no occasion or opportunity to know about the decision, if any, passed by Waqf Board under section 40,” it added.
The petitioner has also argued that the creation of the Waqf Tribunal is arbitrary and every dispute of civil nature must be decided by a civil court.