LUCKNOW: In a jolt to the UP government, Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on Thursday issued directives to the state to produce the original report on the basis of which members of UP Shia Waqf Board were removed. Expressing concern over the removal of nominated members of the Board, the court granted 24 hours to additional advocate General Ramesh Kumar Singh make the government’s stand clear over the issue.
Yogi Adityanath government had removed six of 10 nominated members of UP Shia Waqf Board on June 16, 2017, following a probe report of Central Waqf Council (CWC) indicating rampant corruption and irregularities in the Waqf properties. The vacation Bench comprising Justice Rajan Roy and Justice SN Agnihotri passed the above order on a writ petition moved by a sacked member Aalima Zaidi and others. The court fixed Friday for next hearing of the matter.
The members who were removed by the state government included Akhtar Hasan Rizvi, Sayed Wali Haider, Ashfa Zaidi, Maulana Azim Husain Zaidi, Aalima Zaidi and Nazmul Hasan Rizvi. They were nominated by the previous Samajwadi Party government. Aalima and others have challenged the removal order in the HC.
Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, advocate Gaurav Mehrotra referred to Section 20 and 20 (A) of Waqf Act, 1995, submitting that the state government flouted the above mentioned sections of the Act while removing the six members from the Board. Advocate Mehrotra also argued that the appointment of the nominated members was a term-bound appointment and as such, the members could not be removed before the expiry of the term.
Opposing the plea on behalf of the state government, additional advocate General Ramesh Kumar Singh sought time to seek instructions and verify the facts. Earlier this month, the government had accepted the recommendation of CWC probe committee, led by Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand Waqf Board in-charge Syed Ejaz Abbas Naqvi, for CBI probe into financial and land irregularities allegedly committed by the officials of both the Boards. Besides, the CWC probe team also recommended to the state government to get the charges of Waqf land grabbing and transfer of funds levelled against SP leader Azam Khan and his wife probed by the central probe agency.
Immediately, after assuming power in the state, Yogi Adityanath government had received a lot of complaints regarding corruption against the chairmen of both the Waqf Boards from various quarters of Muslim community. Subsequently, the state asked CWC to look into the functioning of both the Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards. The CWC probe team in its report had reportedly underlined the rampant corruption in the Boards which the report said reached a crescendo during the previous regime with Azam Khan holding the Waqf portfolio. The report not only indicted Azam Khan, who was in-charge of minority affairs then, but also Shia Waqf Board chief Wasim Raza.