The Supreme Court today ordered authorities to remove a mosque from the premises of the High Court in Allahabad within three months, telling petitioners opposing the demolition that the structure was on a terminated leasehold property and that they could not claim it as a matter of right to continue.
The petitioners, the Waqf Masjid High Court and the UP Sunni Waqf Central Council, had challenged a November 2017 order from the Allahabad High Court, which gave them three months to move the mosque off the premises.
The high court rejected their plea on Monday.
A bench of judges MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, however, allowed the petitioners to make representation to the government of Uttar Pradesh for the allocation of nearby land for the mosque.
He told the petitioners that the land was leasehold property, which has been terminated, and that they cannot claim it as a matter of right to continue.
“We further grant a period of three months for the applicants to demolish the construction in question and if the construction is not removed within three months from today, it will be open to the authorities, including the High Court, to have them removed or demolished,” the bench said.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing the mosque’s management committee, said the mosque has been around since the 1950s and cannot simply be asked to move.
“The government changed in 2017 and everything changed. A PIL is filed 10 days after the formation of the new government. We have no problem changing locations as long as they give it to us,” he said.
Lead barrister Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the High Court, said it was a case of outright fraud.
“Twice there were requests for renewal and there was no whisper that the mosque had been built and was being used for the public. They asked for renewal saying it was needed for residential purposes. Just because they offer namaz will not make it a mosque. If in the veranda of the Supreme Court or the veranda of the HC, if namaz is allowed for convenience, it will not become a mosque,” he said.
The high court had earlier asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explore the possibility of granting land to relocate the mosque.
The high court had told the supreme court that it had no alternative land to move the mosque to and that the state might consider moving it to another area. He had also stated that there was already a lack of parking space.
The Supreme Court previously ordered the parties to reach consensus on where the mosque should be moved.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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