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Waqf Board Has The Jurisdiction To Decide Matters Of Muttawalli & Administration Related Issues; Waqf Tribunal Is An Adjudicatory Body: Supreme Court

Raya Banerjee ,
  24 April 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
Civil Appeal No. 4629 of 2024

CASE TITLE:  

S. V. Cheriyakoya Thangal vs. S. V. P. Pookoya & Ors.

DATE OF ORDER:  

2nd April, 2024

BENCH:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. M. Sundresh

Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. V. N. Bhatti

PARTIES:

Appellant: S. V. Cheriyakoya Thangal

Respondent: S. V. P. Pookoya & Ors

SUBJECT: 

The lawsuit is about a disagreement about Sheikhship and Mutawalliship, which has to do with running a Waqf property. Various legal proceedings have been conducted throughout the years by the parties as they have been challenging their respective rights to these positions since 1987.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Waqf Act, 1995:

  • Section 83:

It deals with the powers of the Waqf Tribunal, including its jurisdiction and decision finality.

  • Section 32(2)(g):

It deals with the powers of the Waqf Board.

  • Section 3 (1):

It talks about the definition of the term ‘Mutawalli’.

OVERVIEW:

  • The case was filed in 1987 as a Civil Suit O. S. No. 5/1987 at Munsif Court. Both the appellant and the respondents claimed Mutawalliship and Sheikhship before the Waqf Board.
  • The Waqf Board decided in favour of the appellant Mutawalli. The respondents appealed to the Waqf Tribunal, citing Section 83 of the Waqf Act of 1995.
  • The Waqf Tribunal upheld the Waqf Board’s decision. The respondents contested jurisdiction and challenged the Waqf Tribunal’s verdict in the High Court.
  • The High Court overturned the Waqf Tribunal’s ruling, claiming a lack of jurisdiction for the Waqf Board. 
  • The case was remanded to the High Court for merits review, with the exception of the jurisdictional question.

ISSUE RAISED:

  • Who held the ultimate authority to adjudicate the claims to Mutawalliship and Sheikhship: The Waqf Board or the Waqf Tribunal?
  • How was the proper jurisdiction determined through the interpretation and implementation of the sections of the Waqf Act?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER:

  • The petitioner argued that the matters pertaining to Mutawalliship and Sheikhship fell under the purview of the Waqf Board rather than the Waqf Tribunal.
  • The Waqf Board’s jurisdiction was argued to be supported by section 32(2)(g) and the definition of “Mutawalli” in section 3(i) of the Waqf Act.
  • The petitioner argued that although the Waqf tribunal’s powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, were similar to those of a civil court, they did not supersede the Waqf Board’s authority in administrative affairs.
  • It was highlighted that the authority of superintendence extended to settling administrative problems, such as those involving the selection of a Mutawalli.
  • The petitioner stated that the matter should be sent back for review because the High Court did not fully evaluate its merits.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:

  • The respondent contested the Waqf Board’s jurisdiction and stated the issue belonged in the Waqf tribunal’s jurisdiction.
  • The respondent filed an application under Section 83 of the Waqf Act, 1955, contesting the Waqf Board’s judgement.
  • It was stated that the Waqf tribunal had determined that the Waqf Board’s judgement lacked perversity.
  • The jurisdictional issue in front of the Waqf Board and Waqf Tribunal was highlighted.
  • A High Court petition was filed to have the Waqf tribunal’s ruling revised.
  • It was argued that the Waqf Tribunal, not the Waqf Board, ought to be able to make decisions regarding Mutawalliship.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS:

  • The appellate court determined that the Waqf Board has jurisdiction over particular provisions of the law. The Waqf Tribunal was considered a civil court with powers under the Code of Civil Procedure.
  • The Court read the term “competent authority” in the legislation as referring to the Waqf Board rather than the tribunal.
  • The Waqf Board’s jurisdiction has been declared to include administration and disputes, including Mutawalliship.
  • The challenged order was overturned, and the case was remanded to the High Court for a further hearing on the merits.
  • The High Court was directed to accelerate the hearing due to the lengthy dispute.
  • The Court granted the appeal, leaving all matters open to the High Court’s determination.
  •  Pending applications were dismissed by the Court.

CONCLUSION:

The Waqf Board’s authority was reinforced by the appeal’s approval. The High Court was asked to review the matter again and to resolve any outstanding applications before returning it. The case has a lengthy history extending back to 1987, thus the court stressed the importance of a prompt settlement.
 

 
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