Waqf Board, Rajasthan vs Jindal Saw Limited on 29 April, 2022


Try out our Premium Member services: Virtual Legal Assistant, Query Alert Service and an ad-free experience. Free for one month and pay only if you like it.

Supreme Court of India

Waqf Board, Rajasthan vs Jindal Saw Limited on 29 April, 2022

Author: Hemant Gupta

Bench: Hemant Gupta, V. Ramasubramanian

                                                      REPORTABLE

                                      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                   CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2788 OF 2022
                           (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 16196 OF 2021)


         WAQF BOARD, RAJASTHAN                                               .....APPELLANT(S)

                                                           VERSUS

         JINDAL SAW LIMITED & ORS.                                        .....RESPONDENT(S)


                                                       WITH

                                   CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2789 OF 2022
                           (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 17334 OF 2021)




                                                 JUDGMENT

HEMANT GUPTA, J.

1. The challenge in the present appeals is to an order dated

29.9.2021 passed by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan

at Jodhpur, whereby the writ petition filed by respondent No. 1 1

was allowed directing the appellant and respondent Nos. 2 to 8

not to interfere with the action of the writ petitioner in removal of
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Jayant Kumar Arora
Date: 2022.04.29 the structure forming part of Khasra No. 6731 at Village Pur,
16:15:46 IST
Reason:

Bhilwara, Rajasthan.

1 For short, the ‘writ petitioner’

1

2. The writ petitioner was granted lease of an area admeasuring

1556.7817 hectares vide lease deed dated 8.12.2010 for the

mining of Gold, Silver, Lead, Zinc, Copper, Iron, Cobalt, Nickle

and associated minerals near Village Dhedwas, Tehsil and District

Bhilwara, Rajasthan.

3. It was pointed out that the Tehsildar, Bhilwara had submitted a

report on 3.12.2010 after conducting an inquiry along with Rev-

enue Record Super Impose Site Plan in respect of Land Numbers,

admeasuring 142-15 bigha of village Samodi; Land Numbers ad-

measuring 33-09 bigha of village Dariba; Land Numbers admea-

suring 40-03 bigha of village Pansal; Land Numbers admeasuring

127-02 bigha of village Malola; Land Numbers admeasuring 241-

14 bigha of village Dhulkheda; Land Numbers admeasuring 748-

02 bighas of village Pur after obtaining report from the con-

cerned Patwaris. Such report shows that Land Number 897 of vil-

lage Samodi is a Devsthan i.e. place of worship. It was commu-

nicated that if the mining work is carried out without causing

harm to Devsthan and not using the harmful explosives, then

there is no objection in carrying out mining work in that survey

number. In the detailed report, certain survey numbers in differ-

ent villages such as Samodi, Dariba, Pansal, Malola are men-

tioned wherein there was a proposal not to grant permission and

2
also certain other survey numbers wherein permission was pro-

posed to be given. In Survey Nos. 543 (6 Bigha 11 Biswa), 498

Min. (8 Bigha 6 Biswa) and 42 (3 Biswa) of Malola Village, there

was a proposal not to grant permission in view of barren land

near religious place. Similarly, in Dhulkheda Village, the proposal

to undertake mining was not granted in Survey Nos. 219 and 220

on account of religious place and in Survey No. 365 for the rea-

son of graveyard. However, in respect of the area in question in

Village Pur, the mining was proposed to be carried out in Land

Survey No. 235. The permission was proposed to be granted in

respect of Survey No. 6731 measuring 158 Bigha 12 Biswa. It

was thus proposed that permission is not to be granted in total of

213 Bigha 11 Biswa, for the mining work whereas in 325 Bigha

19 Biswa, permission was to be granted. It is thereafter that the

lease was executed on 8.12.2010 by the State in favor of the writ

petitioner.

4. The Survey Commissioner, Waqf of the State of Rajasthan, con-

ducted survey of the waqf properties in the year 1963. In the

said survey, a structure was found named as ‘Tiranga Ki Qalan-

dari Masjid’ in the survey report. On the basis of said Survey re-

port, a notification was published on 23.9.1965 in which ‘Qalan-

dari Masjid of Tiranga’ located at village Pur was notified as wakf.

Later, on the basis of the said Gazette Notification, the ‘Tiranga

3
Ki Qalandari Masjid’ was entered in the waqf register as admea-

suring 12×9=108. Another survey was conducted in village Pur,

Bhilwara in accordance with the Waqf Act, 1995 2. The ‘Qalandari

Masjid Tiranga’ was found in existence in Survey Number 931 as

per the report dated 15.1.2002. Part III (b) of the said survey re-

port gives dimension of the mosque as 25x25x25x25, bounded

on all sides by Hills.

5. It may be stated that Survey No. 931 is not included in the list of

survey numbers of which lease was granted. There is no refer-

ence to Survey No. 931 as to whether lease is to be granted or

not to be granted for the same.

6. It appears that the Anjuman Committee addressed a letter to the

Chairman of the appellant-Board on 17.4.2012 to the effect that

on Tiranga Hill in Village Pur, there is a wall and Chabutrah (plat-

form) on so-called Qalandari Masjid where in olden times labor-

ers used to offer prayers. The elders had informed that they

have not seen anybody praying Namaaz nor there is access to

water and stairs to reach the platform. The office of the appel-

lant responded on 18.4.2012 that the area consisting of the plat-

form over the Tiranga Hill should be saved from mining. The said

letters, when translated, read thus:-

“17.4.2012

2 For short, the ‘Act’

4
“It is submitted that there is a wall and delipidated
platforms/chabutrah at the so-called Qalandari Masjid situated at
Tiranga Hills where earlier some laborers used to offer prayers. By
enquiring from the elderly people, it came to our knowledge that
no one was seen offering prayer/namaz at such place. Further,
neither there is any water there, nor there are stairs.

The miners informed that due to mining, the wall and chabutrah,
which are already in a dilapidated condition, could fall.

When we talked about this to the miners present there, then they
respectfully agreed to reach to a settlement. Hence, kindly oblige
us by issuing directions/guidance to settle the issue.”

18.4.2012

“Subject- Relating to taking steps for the chabutara/platform as
per the Shariyat.

In reference to your letter dated 17 April 2012.

In relation to the abovesaid letter, it is stated that there is a
chabutara/dilapidated platform at the Tiranga Hill situated at Vil-
lage Pur which is sought to be protected from mining activities
and there have been talks of arriving at a settlement.

Hence, considering the present circumstances in this context as
well as keeping in mind the benefit of Wakf, take the requisite de-
cisions at your end and also inform the Wakf Board about the
same. Original is attached herewith.”

7. On 23.4.2012, the Chairman of the appellant-Board communi-

cated to the Collector and to the Superintendent of Police that

the communication dated 18.4.2012 is being misinterpreted as

the purpose was to safeguard the interest of the waqf but the

members of the Anjuman Committee have acted for personal

gain and, therefore, action should be taken. In response to the

said letter, the District Magistrate communicated that an FIR has

5
been registered and a sum of Rs.65 lakhs has been recovered. It

was in this background, respondent No. 1 herein filed a writ peti-

tion before the High Court.

8. The High Court constituted an Expert Committee to examine the

following two questions:

“(i) As to whether the structure existing within the mining
lease area of the Petitioner was a mosque or structure
which can be removed for the purpose of carrying out
lease hold activities within the said area.

(ii) The Committee shall also ascertain as to whether any
illegal mining activity within the mining lease area of the
petitioner and if so whether the same was carried out by
the petitioner-company or any other entity.”

9. It has come on record that such Committee was chaired by Shri

R.K. Sinha, Controller General (Retd.) of India Bureau of Mines

along with Shri O.P. Kabra, nominee of the Secretary Mines, De-

partment of Mines and Geology, Rajasthan and Smt. Nandini

Bhattacharya Sahu, Regional Director (West), Archaeological

Survey of India. Shri O.P. Kabra, nominee of the Secretary Mines

was later substituted by Shri A.K. Nandwana, Superintending

Mining Engineer, Bhilwara. The Committee submitted its report

on 10.1.2021, reporting that the dilapidated structure existing at

Khasra No. 6731 is neither a mosque nor any structure with ar-

chaeological or historical relevance. Shri A.K. Nandwana, one of

6
the members had partially dissented with the report by a hand-

written note stating that steps should be taken to stop the illegal

mining.

10. Learned counsel for the appellant argued that such Expert

Committee constituted had no representative of the appellant

and the appellant was not associated with the report so

submitted, therefore, the report cannot be made basis of

rejecting the structure on the Hill as not a religious structure. It

was contended that whether the structure is a waqf or not has to

be decided by the Waqf Tribunal in terms of Section 83 of the Act

and not in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of

India.

11. Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned senior advocate for the State

supplemented the arguments raised to contend that in terms of

the lease dated 8.12.2010, the decision as to whether the place

is a public ground over which the mining activity can be carried

out has to be determined by the State Government. The State

Government has determined that mining lease is not permissible

over Survey No. 6731. The relevant conditions read as under:

“No building etc. upon certain places:-

1. No building or thing shall be erected, set up or placed
and no surface operations shall be carried on in or upon
any public pleasure ground, burning or burial ground or
place held sacred by any class of persons or any house or
villages site, public road or other place which the State

7
Government may determine as public ground nor in such
a manner as to injure or prejudicially effect any buildings
works property or rights of other persons and no land will
be used for surface operations which is already occupied
by persons other than the State Government for works or
purposes not included in this lease. The lessee/lessees
shall not also interfere with any right of way well or talk.”

12. On the other hand, Mr. Ranjit Kumar and Mr. C.S. Vaidyanathan,

learned senior counsels appearing for the writ petitioner

contended that as per the detailed report submitted by the

Tehsildar, on the basis of which permission to lease was granted,

Survey No. 931 over which the said structure is found in the

survey report was not part of the lease. Survey No. 6731

measuring 158 Bigha 12 Biswa was the one over which the writ

petitioner was granted permission to do the mining work but

there is no document or report to show that any part of Survey

No. 6731 was ever declared to be a religious structure within the

meaning of waqf as defined under the Act. The learned counsel

for the parties furnished the photocopies of the original

documents on the basis of which reliance was placed by the

appellant that the Tiranga Qalandari Masjid in Village Pur is a

mosque and, therefore, no mining activity can be undertaken.

13. The first document so produced is undated but the subject shows

that it is in respect of Auqaf to be registered in Ajmer and Sunel

Regions of the State till 5.1.1959 and in the rest of Rajasthan by

8
1.4.1955. A reading of the said report shows that it does not

have any survey number, though the value of waqf was assessed

at Rs.900/- and the purpose of use was for Namaaz. Thereafter,

a notification was published on 23.9.1965 declaring Qalandari

Masjid of Tiranga as the waqf property as the nature and object

are pious, religious and for offering prayers. The appellant has

produced an extract from its register pointing out that 12 x 9

measuring 108 is Tiranga Ki Qalandari Masjid. Another document

produced by the appellant is the survey report dated 15.1.2002

to the effect that the Qalandari Masjid on Tiranga Hill is situated

in Survey No. 931.

14. With this factual background, Mr. Ranjit Kumar and Mr. C.S.

Vaidyanathan have argued that the claim of the appellant is

wholly untenable as at no point of time, any revenue record

shows any religious structure on the land comprising in Survey

No. 6731. In fact, the religious structure is said to be in

existence over Survey No. 931. Still further, the record of the

appellant shows that the area of the religious structure is 108

feet whereas in the second survey report, the area is shown to

be 525 feet. Hence, there is a discrepancy about the area over

which the religious structure is in existence.

15. It has also been contended that a perusal of the photographs

9
shows that the structure is totally dilapidated without any roof

and in fact a wall and some broken derelict platform exist at the

spot. The area is surrounded by vegetation and there is also

nothing to suggest that the structure was ever used for offering

prayers (Namaaz) as neither the area is accessible, nor there is

any facility of Wazoo3, which is stated to be an essential step

before offering prayer. The experts from the Archaeological

Department have reported that the structure has no historical or

archaeological importance. It is further contended that the

Tehsildar, before the possession was delivered, had given an

extensive report of each of the structure existing on the land

proposed to be given. The lands for graveyard and other

religious structures have been excluded from the lease.

Therefore, the act of identification carried out years before

raising of the dispute done by the revenue officials in the course

of their official duties carry presumption of correctness. It shows

that the structure had no religious value.

16. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length and find

no merit in the appeals. The Qalandari Masjid on Tiranga Hill as

per the document produced by the appellant is located on

Survey No. 931. There is no assertion that the Survey No. 931 is

changed as Survey No. 6731. In fact, the old number of Survey

3 The practice of ritual purification i.e., to wash face, hands, arms and feet before daily
prayer.

10
No. 6731 is 9646 or may be some other number but positively

not the survey number 931. Therefore, the claim of the

appellant is on a different portion of land and not the land leased

to the writ petitioner. There is discrepancy in the total area of the

Masjid in the two documents, i.e., the extract produced by the

appellant from the register and the second survey report. The

letter dated 17.4.2012 by the Anjuman Committee is based upon

hearsay and is not of any binding value.

17. Still further, there is no evidence at any given point of time that

the structure was being used as a mosque. There is no

allegation or proof of either of dedication or user or grant which

can be termed as a waqf within the meaning of the Act. Section

3 (r) of the Act reads thus:-

“[(r) “waqf” means the permanent dedication by any
person, of any movable or immovable property for any
purpose recognised by the Muslim law as pious, religious
or charitable and includes—

(i) a waqf by user but such waqf shall not cease to be a
waqf by reason only of the user having ceased
irrespective of the period of such cesser;

(ii) a Shamlat Patti, Shamlat Deh, Jumla Malkkan or by
any other name entered in a revenue record;

(iii) xxx xxx”

18. The report of the experts is relevant only to the extent that the

structure has no archaeological or historical importance. In the

absence of any proof of dedication or user, a dilapidated wall or

a platform cannot be conferred a status of a religious place for

11
the purpose of offering prayers/Namaaz.

19. The stand of the State Government that they have identified it to

be a religious structure comprising in Khasra No. 6731 has not

been produced on record. There is nothing on record that such

decision if any, was arrived at after associating the writ

petitioner. It is always open to the State as lessor to exercise the

powers conferred in it by the lease deed after complying the

principles of natural justice and on good and sufficient grounds.

20. In view of the above, we do not find any merit in the present

appeals. Consequently, the appeals are dismissed.

………………………………………J.

(HEMANT GUPTA)

………………………………………J.

(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)
NEW DELHI;

APRIL 29, 2022.

12



Source link