Will not demolish Lal Masjid, Centre informs Delhi HC
The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi high court that it will not demolish the Lal Masjid, an ancient mosque situated on a disputed land near Lodhi Road in the national capital.
Additional solicitor general (ASG) Chetan Sharma told justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the Union government will not demolish the mosque till April 29, when the case will be next heard by the court.
The submission came on a plea by the Delhi Waqf Board, challenging the demolition order of the mosque in village Aliganj, alongside Link Road. The Waqf Board plea, filed through advocate Wajeeh Shafiq, said even when the land dispute is pending before the Waqf Tribunal, the Centre and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) have asked them to vacate the mosque as the structure was going to be demolished.
On Tuesday, the court asked the Centre and the CRPF if they had plans to demolish the mosque.
The Waqf petition has also said since time immemorial, the land in question has been occupied by a graveyard and the Lal Masjid. However, in 2017, the land of the graveyard was taken over by the Centre, a dispute which is pending adjudication before the Waqf Tribunal.
On Tuesday, appearing for the Waqf Board, senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose submitted that even though the tribunal was made functional and appointments were made on court orders, since December 2020, the tribunal is not operational as the posts of two members are lying vacant.
He had said the Centre’s Land and Development Officer (L&DO)is taking advantage of the situation and on March 31, the SHO of Basti Nizamuddin police station visited the site and told the imam that the mosque will be demolished since the area was to be used by CRPF for canteen, barracks and parking.
He sought that the tribunal be constituted and the matter be decided before taking any untoward step.
On Wednesday, justice Sachdeva, while taking on record the statement of the ASG, also asked the Delhi government to expedite the filling of vacancies in the Waqf Tribunal. The court posted the matter for further hearing to April 29.