Barabanki mosque demolition: HC issues notice to then SDM | Lucknow News – Times of India

LUCKNOW: A Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court on Tuesday directed the respondents to file their response within three weeks in connection with the demolition of a mosque on May 17, 2021.
It also issued notice to the then sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Ram Sanehi Ghat in Barabanki for his reply as ‘malice was alleged against him’. It further granted a week to the petitioner for filing a rejoinder affidavit, fixing July 27, 2021 as the next date of hearing.
A division bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Saurabh Lavania passed the order on two writ petitions filed by P Sunni Central Waqf Board and Hashmat Ali and others respectively. The bench had heard the matter on June 15 and reserved its order on the question of interim relief.
Pronouncing the order through video-conferencing on Tuesday, the bench observed, “We are of the opinion that these petitions prima facie raise important questions inter-alia (among other questions) as to the existence of a mosque on public utility land, if it is so, as also, with regard to exercise of power by state authorities under Section 133 Criminal Procedure Code and other related provisions, its scope, especially the allegations of mala-fide exercise of power and the manner in which it has been done, as alleged by the petitioners.”
The bench recorded in its order that the senior advocate appearing for UP Sunni Central Waqf Board was unable, as of now, to show any documentary proof about the ownership right of the committee of management on the land where the mosque was constructed.
On being pointed by the bench that if the relief for restoration of mosque is to be considered in these writ proceedings, assuming that the occasion so arises, then, the fact that the mosque validly existed on the land in question would have to be established and that this issue may also fall for consideration in the context of other reliefs claimed. Senior lawyer Yusuf Muchhala, who appeared for Hashmat Ali and others, referred to concept of ‘Waqf by user’ but ultimately submitted that they would not enter into complicated questions of title and would not raise the same in these proceedings and would confine their grievance to the relief claimed against the arbitrary, illegal and blatant exercise of power under Section 133 and claim for compensation for the same.”
In the writ petitions, it has been alleged that the mosque was standing for hundred years on the land recorded as ‘abadi land’ in revenue records. Muslim community would offer namaz in the mosque. It has been alleged further that the then SDM Ram Sanehi Ghat, due to personal grudges and mala-fide reasons, got it demolished on May 17, 2021 in the garb of powers exercised under section 133 of CrPC.
“The matter was beyond the scope of exercise of power under Section 133 CrPC, yet, the SDM , only to satisfy his personal ego and out of malice, not only proceeded under the said provision unjustifiably and illegally but ensured that the mosque is demolished,” the petitions say.
The state lawyer opposed the petitions and pleaded that the writs were not maintainable.
After hearing the matters, the bench issued notices to the respondents and asked them to file their detailed reply.

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Sagar Biswas

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