The Bombay high court has directed the state government to establish a three-member Wakf Tribunal at Aurangabad by the end of February 2017. It has also asked the state to provide the tribunal with all the necessary staff and infrastructure so that it can start functioning effectively from March 1.
The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed also directed that apart from Aurangabad, the tribunal shall hold camp sittings at Mumbai, Ahmednagar and Pune as a considerable number of cases relating to Wakfs were pending in these districts.
As per the figures provided by the state government, 1,453 cases are pending before the tribunal. This includes 362 cases from Aurangabad, 216 cases from Mumbai, 88 cases from Ahmednagar and 86 cases from Pune. With regard to other districts, the bench has directed that the tribunal shall sittings at regular intervals at divisional headquarters for deciding cases arising out of the districts falling within the revenue division.
The issue of setting up of the Wakf tribunal was raked up by Nasik resident Abdul Gaffar Abdul Qadir complaining that though the Wakf Act, 1995 was amended in 2013 providing reconstitution of Wakf tribunal for determining disputes regarding Wakfs and Wakf properties, no such was set up by the state government.
The state government responded to the petition stating that though the amendment provides for multiple tribunals, one tribunal will be formed at Aurangabad and 17 staff members will be provide to the tribunal along with necessary infrastructure. Even though, the petitioners insisted that one tribunal should be formed for each district, after considering the number of pending cases, the bench felt that as of now one tribunal will suffice for entire state.
At the same time, the court has also directed the government to set up additional tribunals, as may be recommended by the chairman of the tribunal, if the filing before the tribunal increases in future.
The chairman of the newly formed tribunal will be a senior member of the state judicial service – a district judge, a sessions judge or a civil judge class-1. An officer of the rank of additional district magistrate from the state civil services and an eminent person having knowledge of Muslim law and jurisprudence would act as members on the tribunal, stated the bench.