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The present case is regarding whether section 52A of the Wakf Act, 1995, can be applied retrospectively to possession that has been acquired before the enactment of the act. The Kerala High Court denied the termination of criminal proceedings against the petitioner, even though the tenancy on the waqf land had ended in 2005, and there was a stay on the eviction order. Aggrieved by this decision, the appellants approached the Supreme Court to quash the criminal complaint against them.


The counsel representing the appellants contended that the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence requires that penal provisions cannot be applied retrospectively. Section 52A is a punishable offense under the Wakf Act. However, in this case, the possession was taken before the act came into force. The counsel representing the respondents contended that the rationale of including section 52A in the Wakf Act is to declare any illegal holding of property as a punishable offense, and hence the amendment would apply to the appellants as they’re still holding the property.


The Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court and allowed the present appeal. A bench Consisting of Justices S Ravindra Bhat & Dipankar Datta heavily criticized the Kerala State Wakf Board and held the law applied against the petitioners as “Draconian”. It was rightly pointed out by the bench that, criminal proceedings cannot be instituted against people who have not committed any criminal act and the “arm twisting” actions of the Wakf Board were against Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

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