The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued notice to the state government, Gujarat Waqf Board and Central Waqf Council on a PIL challenging the state Waqf Board’s move to grant ‘unauthorised and illegal’ sale permit of Waqf properties. Another related petition also challenged the functioning of the Waqf Board saying the tenure of the members ended on February 21 this year, and sought the court’s direction for the appointment of a new Board.
Both the PILs have been filed by a body called Save Waqf Properties and are being heard by a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi.
Notices in connection with both the PILs were issued to the state government, Gujarat Waqf Board and Central Waqf Board.
In its PIL challenging the ‘illegal’ sale of Waqf properties, the petitioner said that the amended Waqf Act of November 2013, section 51 (1)(A) prohibits “gift, sale, exchange or mortgage” of the Waqf properties after the amended act came into effect.
Waqf Board chairman A I Saiyed himself granted permission for the sale of Waqf properties with CEO Gulam Mustufa Khan raising no objection, it said, adding that the sale was “illegally perpetrated”.
In response to a query by the Central Waqf Council about the same, the Board said it granted permission to sell 26 properties, but this was before the notification came into effect, it said.
“When the petitioner approached the state government in May this year, it said that the sale permission has been stalled, and said action will be taken, but no action has been taken so far to protect illegally sold Waqf properties or to retrieve such properties,” it said.
The petition sought the court’s direction for investigation into illegality by an independent agency, and quashing and setting aside all such permissions.
On the appointment of the Waqf Board, the second petition said the members of the Board “illegally continue to discharge powers, jurisdictions and functions as chairman and members of the board,” despite 5-year-term of the Board ending on February 21 this year.
It sought the court’s order to restrain Chairman and members and constitute and notify a legal and functional board.