"No laws there for other minorities": PIL in Delhi High Court challenges provisions of Waqf Act

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A Public Interest Litigation in the Delhi High Court has challenged the validity of provisions of the Waqf Act 1995 stating that the Act is made under the garb of managing waqf properties but there are no similar laws for followers of Hinduism,  Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism & Christianity.

The petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay alleges that the Act is against the secularism, unity, and integrity of the nation. The Waqf is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. 

In addition to this, the plea states that "if the impugned Act has been made to protect the rights guaranteed under Articles 29-30 then it has to cover all the minorities i.e., followers of Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and not only Islam."

"Centre cannot make Tribunals arbitrarily beyond the scope of Articles 323A–323B, but if the impugned Act is enacted under Article 245 and Entry-97 of the List-1 of the Shedule-7, then the Tribunal has to perform in consonance with Articles 14-15," the plea adds.

It has been further stated that "the Religious Endowment Act 1863, Indian Trustees Act 1866, Indian Trust Act 1882, Charitable Endowment Act 1890, Official Trustees Act 1913 and Charitable and Religious Act 1990 are made to manage trusts and religious endowments of all communities. But rather than unifying them and making a 'Uniform Code for Trust and Trustees, Charities and Charitable Institutions, Charitable and Religious Endowments and Religious Institution', Centre has arbitrarily enacted the impugned religion-biased Act against the basic tenets of Articles 14-15."

The plea seeks direction that the dispute relating to religious properties shall be decided by the Civil Court only under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code 1908, and not by Waqf Tribunal.

The plea further seeks direction to the Centre or Law Commission of India to draft a ‘Uniform Code for Trust-Trustees and Charities-Charitable Institutions’ in the spirit of Articles 14-15 and publish it for public debate and feedback.

Earlier, The Supreme Court had refused to hear the plea seeking direction to the Centre/Law Commission of India to draft a ‘Uniform Code for Trust-Trustees and Charities-Charitable Institutions’ in spirit of Articles 14 &15 of the Constitution and publish the draft on website for larger public debate and feedback. The bench opined that the courts cannot direct the Parliament to enact a law while allowing the petitioner to withdraw and pursue other remedies.

​​​​​Cause Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay Vs. Union of India & Ors.