The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a Waqf committee challenging a notice issued by the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) for the removal of a madrasa, or Islamic school, run by it on a piece of land that the civic body has claimed it acquired way back in 1967. In an order passed recently and made available on the HC website on Tuesday, the court said it was not inclined to interfere with the ongoing process related to the religious school.
Justice AY Kogje dismissed the petition filed by the Waqf committee, which runs the madrasa located in Surat city’s Sangrampura area, challenging the notice issued by the SMC seeking the removal of the structure. The Waqf committee was first issued a notice by the SMC on October 1, 2021, for the removal of “illegal construction” on the ground the petitioner was an “unauthorized occupant” of the land.
Fearing demolition of the structure, the petitioner – Madrasa-e-Anwar Rabbani Waqf Committee – moved to the Waqf Tribunal, which granted a status quo that was extended from time to time. The status quo was not extended after the SMC filed its reply before the tribunal claiming ownership of the land. The Surat civic body issued another notice to the committee on December 29, 2021, seeking the removal of the structure.
Thereafter, by an order dated March 28, 2022, an executive engineer of the SMC directed the removal of the madrasa within seven days on the ground that its construction was undertaken without seeking prior permission from the competent authority. The Waqf committee challenged the SMC notice (and also the order) in the HC, claiming the land in question was originally owned by one Ashiq Hussain Abdul Hussain and his five brothers. They had transferred the rights, titles, and shares of all the brothers to the Waqf by way of an oral gift deed to run a madrasa providing education to Muslim students, it claimed.
The SMC, however, submitted that the land housing the school was acquired by it in 1967 to develop a garden and a lake as per town planning, and the original owners had received compensation.”The land is in the name of the state authorities and Therefore, there was no legal right for the petitioner to continue in occupation on a feeble ground of oral gift by the erstwhile owners of the land,” the civic body has said.