New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the Allahabad High Court order passed in 2017, directing removal of a mosque from its premises.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar declined to interfere with the high court order and granted three months’ time to the petitioner to remove the mosque from the high court premises.
It noted that the high court can demolish the construction, if it is not cleared within three months and also allowed the petitioner, Waqf Masjid High Court to make a representation to the state government for alternative land.
The bench said it does not see any reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and order of the high court. It added, however, it will be open to the petitioners to make a detailed representation to the state government seeking alternative land, which may be considered in accordance with law and on its own merits, and refused to entertain a petition challenging the high court order.
The bench noted that the mosque was situated on government lease land and the grant was cancelled in 2002, and after cancellation of the lease, the land was resumed in favour of the high court in 2004 for its expansion.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Waqf Masjid High Court, narrated the history of the mosque and added that Muslims were offering namaz and there was an arrangement for wazu as well.
He said that the mosque is situated across the road outside the high court and wrong to say it was on the high court premises.
Sibal added that in 2017, the government changed and a PIL was filed against the mosque after the new government was formed and added that the mosque was functioning as a public mosque for decades.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the UP Sunni Waqf Board, submitted that though the land belonged to the government but the board was in possession of the mosque meant for public use. She added that her client is willing to be given an alternate site, and they are not insisting that namaz has to be offered there.
The counsel, representing the high court, argued that the petitioner is unnecessarily giving the matter a religious colour.
The top court told the mosque’s counsel to try to understand that they have no right since it was a lease property. “Lease was terminated and land was resumed and confirmed by this court… You can’t claim it as a matter of right to continue.”
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the UP government, said there is another mosque adjacent to the high court and in 2004, the land was resumed for the high court and now, it is 2023 now. She added that they are not raising any other ground except that the government has changed.
The matter originates from a petition filed in the Allahabad High Court by Abhishek Shukla, arguing that the mosque, a waqf property stood on land, which originally belonged to the high court.