The Gujarat High Court set aside the order of the Gujarat State Waqf Tribunal, which had halted the construction of a railway track near Firoz Saheb ni dargah in Rajpur Hirpur locality in Maninagar Taluka of Ahmedabad, reported Live Law.
Dargah trustee named Shaikh Onali Ismailji (Visawaarwala) had moved the State Waqf Board Tribunal, seeking a restraining order on the Collector and its servants from damaging the ‘property’ and interfering with the movement of the devotees in and out of the dargah.
He had claimed that the dargah had 4 constructions and witnessed a regular footfall of devotees. Shaikh had contended that the construction of a railway track would hinder devotees from offering prayers at the ‘shrine’.
The Applicant authority (Collector) had argued that the construction of the railway line was started only after receiving proper sanctions. He added that the railway line was in the greater interest of the public and that it would pass through the way to the dargah and not through the ‘shrine’.
The Applicant also informed that the dargah trustees refused to negotiate or chalk out alternate plans and instead approached the State Waqf tribunal with ‘incorrect facts.’
Gujarat State Waqf Tribunal had granted an injunction, favoring the dargah ‘trustee’ Shaikh Onali Ismailji (Visawaarwala) and had directed the District Collector to seek the permission from the Waqf Board for land acquisition and construction of railway lines.
Aggrieved by the Tribunal’s ‘misconceived’ and ‘premature’ order, the Applicant authority moved to the Gujarat High Court. The matter was heard by a single-Judge Bench of Justice Umesh Trivedi of the Gujarat High Court.
Observations made by the Gujarat High Court on dargah’s plea
During the hearing, it came to light that the dargah trustee provided no document that could prove that the Islamic shrine was indeed a Waqf property. Moreover, it came to light that Shaikh Onali Ismailji (Visawaarwala) was not a ‘trustee’ but a ‘manager’ of the dargah trust.
“The Respondent could be classified as a ‘person interested in Waqf but he had no right to file a suit asserting proprietary rights to the property itself,” the Court observed.
It stated that the railway track was not being laid on dargah property and as such the injunction by Waqf Tribunal was ‘uncalled for’. The Court held that the proximity of a dargah to a railway land did not automatically imply that the surrounding land belonged to the dargah authorities.
The Gujarat High Court also noted [pdf] that the Tribunal’s order also obstructed a National Level Project and thus set aside its injunction, given that it had no jurisdiction.
“What is claimed is that it (construction project) hinders the access to the dargah and it comes within two railway tracks if it is permitted to be laid down,” the court emphasized.
“It is not the case of the plaintiff in the suit itself that the railway track is being laid from the dargah or a property of a dargah, and therefore, relief granted by the Tribunal, prima-facie, appears to be uncalled for, restraining National Level project of laying down a 3rd broad gauge railway track. That too when, from both the ends project is already over except few meters because of this litigation,” it pointed out.