Supreme Court upholds Allahabad High Court mosque removal order

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to overturn an Allahabad High Court ruling from November 2017 ordering the evacuation of a mosque from its grounds. Waqf Masjid High Court was the petitioner, and a bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar allowed the parties three months to comply with the judgement while allowing the petitioner to request alternative land from the State government. The controversy began with a petition filed by Abhishek Shukla, who claimed that the mosque, a waqf property, was built on land that was originally the High Court’s property. The Waqf property was causing the fire brigade to move slowly, according to the High Court, which had also noticed the “severe compression of space” in the area. The High Court could not organise separate chambers for twelve judges, who are currently sharing six chambers, due to the growth in the number of judges and the lack of space.

The State government had been given notice by the Supreme Court to offer alternative land for the mosque in April 2018. Senior Attorney Kapil Sibal contended that the High Court’s PIL was filed shortly after the Yogi Adityanath administration took office in the State and requested alternative land as a remedy. Senior attorney Indira Jaising argued on behalf of the UP Sunni Waqf Board that the board owned the mosque intended for public use and that the property belonged to the government. The respondent’s attorney stated that the High Court had taken into account all of these factors and that the PIL did not cite the possibility of a change in government as a factor. There is another mosque close to the High Court, according to Assistant Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, and the appellants were correct to assert that they had no rights to the contested property. For the petitioners, attorney MR Shamshad also made his appearance.

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