New Delhi: The Allahabad high court has issued notice in the case of the demolition of the Gareeb Nawaz Al Maroof Mosque in the central Uttar Pradesh town of Barabanki.
On May 17, the mosque was demolished by the administration in defiance of what the petitioners have said, was an order of the Allahabad high court that asked for demolitions to be slowed down during the second wave of the pandemic, until May 31.
The mosque, as The Wire’s Ismat Ara had reported in late May, was registered with the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board. Its electricity bills were being paid for at least 60 years been around for at least six decades, indicating how old it is. The local administration, however, sent it a notice in March, saying that the mosque was “unofficial.”
Prior to the demolition, there had been protests in the area, following which police had booked 180 people were booked under serious charges, including attempt to murder. As many as 30 of them, all Muslims, were in jail when the original story was reported in late May.
As a result of the cases and arrests, the demolition drive was virtually uncontested. “They did not even dare to go close to the mosque while it was getting demolished because of fear of the police,” Maulana Abdul Mustafa, a mosque committee member, told The Wire.
On the other hand, the authorities in Barabanki denied that the mosque was demolished. When The Wire reached out to district magistrate Adarsh Singh, he reiterated, “No mosque has been demolished. It is just not true.”
LiveLaw has reported that a bench of Justices Saurabh Lavania and Rajan Roy observed that the petitions prima facie raise important questions as to the existence of a mosque on “public utility land.”
The petitioners’ counsel, senior advocate J.N. Mathur, reportedly told the bench that the land was mentioned as “abadi” – indicating to be used for residential purposes – in the consolidation records of the 1960s.
The bench also said that the “petition also raises questions with regard to exercise of power by state authorities” under Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (conditional order for removal of nuisance) and other related provisions.
The court also said the petition raises, especially, the allegations of malafide exercise of power and the manner in which the exercise of power by authorities was done.
All parties were directed to file counter affidavits in the matter in three weeks.