The Supreme Court ruled that Wakf Board is “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
Civil Appeal has been preferred by a university to whom the State had transferred 200 acres of land situated in the village Manikonda for the purpose of setting up a University. Civil Appeal filed on behalf of transferee M/s Emaar Hills Township P. Ltd inter-alia on the ground that the appellant and the Corporation had signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the principal terms and structure for the development of the Integrated Project situated at Manikonda village.
The possession of land measuring 535 acres was handed over to such appellant on which the appellant has developed a township. A Writ Petition was filed by Lanco Hills Technology Park Pvt. Ltd and Civil Appeal arises out of the said Writ Petition. Civil Appeals have been filed on behalf of transferees of the Corporation. Civil Appeals of 2016 are directed against an order passed by the High Court in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction against an interim order passed by the Andhra Pradesh Wakf Tribunal.
Advocate V. Giri, appearing for the State, contended that no dispute was ever raised regarding alleged exclusion of properties belonging to Dargah in the first notification even though the first survey report was sent to Wakf Board. It was at the instance of the Wakf Board, the errata notification was published after a long delay of 17 years.
Advocate C.S Vaidyanathan, appearing for the Corporation, argued that the writ jurisdiction of the High Court cannot be excluded only because there exist alternative statutory remedies. The right to invoke writ jurisdiction is untrammeled by any external restrictions.
He contended that the Wakf Board exercises quasi-judicial jurisdiction under Section 40(1) of the 1995 Act. Such a fact is evident from two facts, an inquiry which is required to be conducted and the decision taken after the inquiry, which could be challenged before the Wakf Tribunal.
The division bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian stated that the Wakf Board is a statutory authority established under the Act and is a “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.
The court said that the State Government, as a juristic entity, has a right to protect its property through the writ court, just as any individual could have invoked the jurisdiction of the High Court. Therefore, the State Government is competent to invoke the writ jurisdiction against the action of the Wakf Board to declare the land measuring 1654 acres and 32 guntas as wakf property.
The court noted that the presence of the Government Pleader before the Nazim Atiyat was for a limited purpose as the grants were to be paid by the State Government. The State was not a party either before the Nazim Atiyat or before the High Court.
The court added that a perusal of the record of the Wakf Board, as extracted above, shows that the Errata notification was published when the same was sent by the Chief Executive Officer of the Wakf Board to the Commissioner, Government Printing Press on 13.03.2006. The publication of notification was made under Section 5(2) of the 1995 Act under the authority of the Chief Executive Officer of the Wakf Board. Hence, the notification was not at the instance of the State Government but was an act of the Wakf Board alone.
The court allowed the Civil Appeals and set aside the orders passed by the High Court. The court further quashed the Errata notification and freed the land admeasuring 1654 Acres and 32 guntas vest with the state and/or Corporation from any encumbrance.
The court ordered that in terms of Section 10(2)(i) of the Commutation Regulation, 90% of the gross basic sum referred to in Section 4 of the Commutation Regulation is payable to the Dargah. The arrears shall be calculated and paid to the Dargah within 6 months.
Case title: State of Andhra Pradesh (now state of Telangana) v/s A.P. State Wakf Board & Ors.
Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 10770 OF 2016