Pained It Has Been Put Down to Religion: SC on Plea against Waqf Act


NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Monday orally expressed concern at religion becoming a core issue during the hearing of a plea seeking transfer of petition against the Waqf Act from the high court to it.

A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy orally observed that there are talks going on in some sections of the media, based on some misapprehensions, and the court has prepared a list of state laws on Hindu endowments.

Justice Joseph, pointing out laws of few states, said there is a provision that the member of the Board must profess Hindu religion.

He observed: “I must be speaking for myself, I must express my complete shock that if you say that we have a tribunal and if a judicial member is appointed, that man will decide on the basis of religion?” He added that the Waqf Act is a regulatory law which seeks to protect Waqf lands, and if law were to be struck down, then it will benefit the encroachers.

Justice Joseph queried senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing petitioner, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay: “Are you really saying this? Are we going to go by religion?”

“I feel pained that you’ve put it down to religion, we should certainly go beyond that.”

Justice Joseph added that there should not be any discussion about religion in these matters.

The top court was considering a petition filed by Upadhyay seeking to transfer to the Supreme Court the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Wakf Act from the Delhi High Court.

During the beginning of the hearing, Justice Joseph said he wants to raise certain “academic queries” and drew petitioner’s counsel attention to provisions of various state laws in connection with Hindu endowments which mandate that the members of the Board must profess Hindu religion.

Kumar contended his argument is limited to Waqf’s power to take away any land and bring it within its purview. The bench added the other matter pending before the apex court is relating to the notification of the Maharashtra State Waqf Board and the constitutionality of the Act is not in question. Kumar said that he will examine the queries raised by the bench and would get back.

The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on October 10.

Upadhyay’s plea said the Waqf Act is made to administer the properties of Muslims but there are no similar laws for followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Hence, it is totally against the secularism, unity and integrity of the nation. The plea added if the Act has been made under Entry-10 and Entry-28 of the List-3 of the Schedule-7, then it must be gender-neutral and religion-neutral. -IANS

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