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Writ petition questioning the composition of 7th waqf board dismissed for having false grounds – Manipur high court

Writ petition questioning  the composition of 7th  waqf board dismissed for having false grounds – Manipur high court

A writ petition questioning the composition of the 7th waqf board and requesting to make a fresh waqf board on the ground that it violated the rules and guidelines of Waqf Act, 1995 was heard by a single judge bench of HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE AHANTHEM BIMOL SINGH in the case of Mufti Alsam Khan and Ors versus The State of Manipur and Ors    ( WP (C) No. 373 of 2021)

The learned counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that no women members were appointed in the 7th Waqf Board in total contravention of the mandatory provisions under the second proviso to Sub-Section (1 A) of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995 and as such the constitution of 7th waqf board should be declared null and void and be set aside.in connection to it the counsel submits that under the second proviso to Sub-Section (1 A) of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995, it is provided that at least two members appointed on the Board shall be a woman and in the present situation no women are included in the appointment of members for the board the counsel also submits that the word ‘Shall’ used by the Legislature in the second proviso to Sub-Section (1 A) of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995 shows the mandatory nature of the inclusion of women in the board to support the contention the counsel relied on the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in WP(C) No. 554 of 2021 and WP(C) No. 539 of 2021

The state responds that  no applications were received from any women applicants despite wide Spread of  notification, no woman member could be nominated and  in the earlier constitution of the Waqf Board  there were no woman members and therefore, the present constitution of the 7th Waqf Board cannot be dissolved on this and relies on the precedent of “Sarup Singh Vs. Union of India” reported in (2011) 11 SCC 198

The counsel for petitioners raised a second ground that the respondent No. 5 as duly elected Chairman of the 7th  Waqf Board, Manipur as the notification came of  09.04.2021 and is illegal since no election was held for the election of the Chairman of the 7th Waqf Board in terms of the relevant provisions under Section (8) of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995 and the board must have an elected chairman and no other means can be adopted for appointing the Chairman. In the present situation, no election has been held for appointing the Chairman accordingly the election of the chairman is not valid in the eye of law and it deserves to be quashed and set aside and relies on the judgment of “Central Coalfields Limited Vs. SLL-SML (Joint Venture Consortium)” reported in (2016) 8 SCC 622.

The opposite counsel submits that there are different ways through which appointment can be done and ways are mentioned under Section 14 (1) (b) (i) to (iv) of the Waqf Act, 1995 and in the present situation the State Government appointed the different categories of members of the Waqf Board as mentioned in Section 14 (1) (b) (i) to (iii) of the Waqf Act by exercising its powers under sub-Section 3 of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995 and the members are rightly appointed under  Manipur Waqf Board (Conduct of Election) Rules, 1997.

The court after hearing the argument of parties decided that the State Government widely circulated the notifications inviting applications from interested qualified Muslims, both men, and women, for various categories of the member of the 7th Waqf Board and that no qualified and eligible Muslim women responded to any of the said notifications hence this Court did not find any penal provisions or consequential effect in case of violation of the provisions of the second proviso to Sub-Section (1 A) of Section 14 of the  Act. and on the second ground the   Court finds no reason or ground for doubting the election of the respondent No. 5 as Chairman of the 7th Waqf Board and all the acts complied with the provision of sub-Section 8 of Section 14 of the Waqf Act, 1995 hence the court finds no illegality in the composition of 7th Waqf Board and dismissed the writ petition.

Click here to read the judgment

Judgment reviewed by Naveen Sharma

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