Supreme Court Upholds Waqf Board’s Authority in Mutawalli Dispute

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court emphasized that the Waqf board, not the Waqf Tribunal, holds jurisdiction over matters concerning Mutawalliship. The distinction drawn between the roles of these entities underscores the board’s administrative focus compared to the Tribunal’s adjudicatory function.

Justices M.M Sundresh and S.V.N. Bhatti highlighted that while the Waqf Tribunal serves as an adjudicating body, the Waqf Board’s purview extends to administrative affairs. This distinction becomes paramount when disputes arise during property management, including the appointment of a Mutawalli, who oversees the administration of Waqf properties.

The Court clarified that the Waqf Tribunal operates as a civil court with equivalent powers. This implies that disputes can be adjudicated akin to civil suits by the Tribunal.

At the crux of the matter were conflicting claims to Mutawalliship. The Waqf Board ruled in favor of the appellant, recognizing their status as Mutawalli. Dissatisfied, the opposing party sought recourse through the Tribunal, which led to further legal battles culminating in the Supreme Court.

Delving into the legal framework, the Court referred to relevant provisions of the Waqf Act of 1995, notably Section 32(2)(g), which assigns the Waqf Board the authority to appoint and remove mutawallis.

The Court’s analysis clarified that the Waqf Board, as the designated competent authority, holds jurisdiction over Mutawalli disputes, not the Tribunal. Consequently, the Court overturned previous rulings and directed the High Court to adjudicate the matter based on its merits.

Given the protracted nature of the dispute dating back to 1987, the Court urged the High Court to expedite proceedings for a prompt resolution.

In the case of *S.V CHERIYAKOYA THANGAL v. S.V P POOKOYA & ORS.*, Civil Appeal No.4629/2024, the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirms the pivotal role of the Waqf Board in resolving disputes related to Mutawalliship.

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