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Delhi High Court Halts Demolition at Madrasa, Orders Centre to Refrain from Coercive Action

In the ongoing conflict between the Delhi Waqf Board and the union government over the de-listing of the Board’s 123 properties, the Delhi High Court has intervened. In response to the Board’s assertion that the authorities had destroyed the boundary wall of the Babar Road mosque on April 11, the court ordered the Centre on Thursday to wait until Tuesday before taking any precipitative action against any of the properties. Orally, Justice Manoj Ohri requested that the Centre’s attorney postpone any coercive actions until Tuesday, when the next hearing is set.

The Waqf Board had filed a complaint against the de-listing of its 123 assets, which include dargahs, mosques, and cemeteries. It claimed that the 123 properties had always been in its control and could not suddenly be taken away based on the findings of a two-member committee. Based on the committee’s findings, the Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) has agreed to acquire these properties.

The Board alleged in a new plea to the court that Delhi Development Authority (DDA) staff members had begun to visit waqf properties with the police and attach and distribute notices/letters during prayer hours. Worshippers have experienced worry as a result of this, especially during the current Ramadan month. The Board further said that Suresh Kumar, an executive engineer from the L&DO office, was responsible for the April 11 unannounced and uninformed destruction of the madrasa’s numerous rooms as well as the western boundary wall of the Babar Road Mosque.

The police and paramilitary forces entered the mosque around 6.30 am on April 11 while everyone was still asleep, starting the demolition without giving the managing committee a chance to remove electrical appliances or giving the madrasa students a chance to remove their belongings, according to attorney Wajeeh Shafique, who was representing the Board. The Waqf Board’s attorney disputed the Centre’s assertion that the mosque’s demolition was carried out because the border constituted an incursion, claiming that no such order had been issued by the Supreme Court monitoring committee about the mosque’s destruction.

The court ruled that the authorities should have notified the court before acting as it is keeping an eye on the situation. Kirtiman Singh, the attorney for the Centre, claimed that the Supreme Court monitoring committee had issued an order allowing the unlawful occupancy. The Board’s attorney, however, objected to this and claimed that there was no such order.

The Delhi High Court set Tuesday as the next hearing date and requested that the Centre provide a response to the plea by that time.

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