Digital Desk, New Delhi. The Supreme Court on Friday said in a waqf-related case that a dilapidated wall or platform cannot be granted the status of a religious place for the purpose of offering prayers in the absence of any evidence of the offering or the user.
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramaniam said there was no evidence that the structure was being used as a mosque. It states that there is no evidence of offering or user or grant, which may be called a waqf within the meaning of the Waqf Act.
“The report of experts is relevant only to the extent that the structure has no archaeological or historical significance,” the bench said. In the absence of any proof of dedication or user, a dilapidated wall or a platform cannot be given the status of a religious place.
The bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Rajasthan Waqf Board challenging an order of the Rajasthan High Court directing it not to interfere with the proceedings of Jindal Saw Ltd. and others, which are Khasra No. 6731 in Pur village of Bhilwara district. It is part of the built structure.
The firm was granted lease of 1,556.7817 hectares in 2010 for mining of gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, iron, cobalt, nickel and related minerals near village Dedwas in Bhilwara.
The Anjuman committee wrote a letter addressed to the chairman of the Waqf Board in 2012, stating that the Kalandari Masjid of the tricolor has a wall and platform, where laborers used to offer prayers in the olden times.
However, community elders said that they did not see anyone offering prayers there and there were no stairs to reach the platform. However, the Waqf Board said the area should be protected from mining and the High Court constituted a committee of experts to look into the issue.
The committee, in its report submitted on January 10, 2021, said that the dilapidated structure present in Khasra No. 6731 is neither a mosque nor a structure of archaeological or historical relevance.
The counsel for the Waqf Board argued that the expert committee constituted had no representative of the Board and was not connected with the report submitted, so the grounds for dismissal of the report as a religious composition could not be made.
He argued that whether the structure is a Waqf or not is to be decided by the Waqf Tribunal in terms of Section 83 of the Act and not in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The top court, however, said that a perusal of the photographs shows that the structure is completely dilapidated, without any roof and in fact a wall and some broken platforms are present.
The bench said, the area is surrounded by vegetation and there is nothing to suggest that the structure was ever used for performing Namaz (Namaz) as neither the area is accessible, nor Wazhu (ritual cleansing). ), which is called a necessary step before praying. The experts of the Department of Archeology have told that the structure has no historical or archaeological importance.
Dismissing the appeals, the bench observed that though the state government has claimed that they have identified it as a religious structure, nothing has been placed on record.
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