Thursday, 16 October 2014

Whether suit for eviction against tenant relating to waqf property is exclusive triable by civil court?

The suit for eviction against the tenant relating to a waqf property is exclusive triable by the civil court as such suit is not covered by the disputes specified in Sections 6 and 7 of the Act.

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                         CIVIL APPELLAE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 4250-4252 OF 2014
          (arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) Nos. 23157-23159 of 2012)

      FASEELA M.                                Appellant(s)


Dated;  MARCH 31, 2014  
Citation;2014(5) ALLMR971 SC

      R.M. LODHA,  J.

                 Leave granted.
      2.         Sections 6 and 7 of the Waqf Act, 1995 (for  short,  'Act')
      provide for determination of certain disputes regarding auqaf only  by
      the Waqf Tribunal.  These provisions as amended by Act 27/2013 read as
      under :

           “Section 6. Disputes  regarding  auqaf.-  (1)  If  any  question
           arises whether a particular property specified as waqf  property
           in the list of auqaf is waqf property or not or whether  a  waqf
           specified in such list is a Shia waqf or Sunni waqf,  the  Board
           or the mutawalli of  the  waqf  or  any  person  aggrieved   may
           institute a suit in a Tribunal for the decision of the  question
           and the decision of the Tribunal in respect of such matter shall
           be final:

                 Provided that no such suit shall  be  entertained  by  the
           Tribunal after the expiry of one  year  from  the  date  of  the
           publication of the list of auqaf.

                 Provided further that no suit shall be  instituted  before
           the Tribunal in respect of such properties notified in a  second
           or subsequent survey pursuant to the provisions contained in sub-
           section (6) of section 4.

           (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in  sub-section  (1),  no
           proceeding under this Act in respect of any waqf shall be stayed
           by reason only of the pendency of any such suit or of any appeal
           or other proceeding arising out of such suit.

           (3) The Survey Commissioner shall not be made  a  party  to  any
           suit under sub- section (1) and no suit,  prosecution  or  other
           legal proceeding shall lie against him in  respect  of  anything
           which is in good faith done or intended to be done in  pursuance
           of this Act or any rules made thereunder.

           (4) The list of auqaf shall, unless it is modified in  pursuance
           of a decision or the Tribunal under sub-section  (1),  be  final
           and conclusive.

           (5) On and from the commencement of this Act in a State, no suit
           or other legal proceeding shall be instituted or commenced in  a
           court in that State in relation to any question referred  to  in
           sub-section (1).

           Section 7. Power of Tribunal  to  determine  disputes  regarding
           auqaf.- (1) If, after the commencement of this Act, any question
           or dispute arises, whether a particular  property  specified  as
           waqf property in a list of auqaf is waqf  property  or  not,  or
           whether a waqf specified in such list is a Shia waqf or a  Sunni
           waqf, the Board or the mutawalli of  the  waqf,  or  any  person
           aggrieved by the publication of the list of auqaf under  section
           5 therein, may apply to  the  Tribunal  having  jurisdiction  in
           relation to such property, for the decision of the question  and
           the decision of the Tribunal thereon shall be final:

                 Provided that-

           (a) in the case of the list of auqaf relating to any part of the
           State and published after the commencement of this Act  no  such
           application shall be entertained after the expiry  of  one  year
           from the date of publication of the list of auqaf; and

           (b) in the case of the list of auqaf relating to any part of the
           State and published at any time within  a  period  of  one  year
           immediately preceding the commencement  of  this  Act,  such  an
           application may be entertained by Tribunal within the period  of
           one year from such commencement:

                 Provided further that where any  such  question  has  been
           heard and finally decided by a civil court in a suit  instituted
           before such commencement, the Tribunal shall  not  re-open  such

           (2) Except where the Tribunal has no jurisdiction by  reason  of
           the provisions of sub-section  (5),  no  proceeding  under  this
           section in respect of any waqf shall be  stayed  by  any  court,
           tribunal or other authority by reason only of  the  pendency  of
           any suit, application or appeal or other proceeding arising  out
           of any such suit, application, appeal or other proceeding.

           (3) The Chief Executive Officer shall not be made a party to any
           application under sub-section (1).

           (4) The list of auqaf and where any such  list  is  modified  in
           pursuance of a decision of the Tribunal under sub- section  (1),
           the list as so modified, shall be final.

           (5) The Tribunal shall not have jurisdiction  to  determine  any
           matter which is the subject-matter of  any  suit  or  proceeding
           instituted or commenced in a civil court under  sub-section  (1)
           of section 6, before the commencement of this Act  or  which  is
           the subject-matter of any appeal from the decree  passed  before
           such commencement in any such  suit  or  proceeding  or  of  any
           application for revision or review arising  out  of  such  suit,
           proceeding or appeal, as the case may be.

           (6)  The Tribunal shall have the powers of assessment of damages
           by unauthorised occupation of waqf property and to penalise such
           unauthorised occupants for their illegal occupation of the  waqf
           property and to recover the damages as arrears of  land  revenue
           through the Collector:

                 Provided that whosoever, being a public servant, fails  in
           his lawful duty to prevent or remove an encroachment,  shall  on
           conviction be punishable with fine which may extend  to  fifteen
           thousand rupees for each such offence.”

      3. Thus, Sections 6 and  7  of  the  Act  not  only  confer  exclusive
      jurisdiction upon the  Waqf  Tribunal  for  determination  of  certain
      disputes regarding auqaf but also take jurisdiction of the civil court
      away in respect of such disputes.
      4.         Munnerul Islam Madrasa Committee – respondent No. 1 – filed
      a suit for eviction against the appellant before  the  Waqf  Tribunal,
      inter alia, setting up the plea that respondent No. 1 is the  landlord
      and the appellant is the tenant in the subject property.  The  subject
      property is described as waqf property.
      5.         The appellant denied that the  subject  property  was  waqf
      property. He also challenged the jurisdiction of the Waqf Tribunal  in
      determining the dispute between the parties.
      6.          On  18.09.2010,  the  Waqf  Tribunal,  after  hearing  the
      parties, directed the plaint to be returned to the civil court  having
      jurisdiction in the matter.  However,  on  the  next  date,  i.e.,  on
      19.09.2010, the Waqf Tribunal suo motu recalled the  order  passed  on
      18.09.2010 and passed the following  order :-
           “Called. It seems that issue framed included whether property is
           Wakf property or not. Hence to that extent  this  Tribunal  have
           jurisdiction.  But due to oversight and mistake it is ordered to
           return the Plaint.  That order is an error apparent on  face  of
           records and suo motu reviewed. Call on 30.9.2010.”

      7.         The appellant filed two revision petitions before the  High
      Court – one, against the order dated 19.09.2010  and  the  other,  for
      declaration that the Waqf Tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter.
      8.         The High Court dismissed both revision  petitions  and  one
      original petition by the impugned order giving  rise  to  the  present
      Appeals, by special leave.
      9.         The question, for determination in these appeals, is as  to
      whether the suit for eviction  by  the  landlord  against  the  tenant
      relating to waqf property is triable by the civil court  or  the  suit
      lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Waqf Tribunal.
      10.        For determination of the above question, besides Sections 6
      and 7, the two other  provisions  which  deserve  to  be  noticed  are
      Sections 83 and 85 of the Act. These provisions read :

           “Section 83. Constitution of Tribunals,  etc.-  (1)   The  State
           Government shall,  by  notification  in  the  Official  Gazette,
           constitute as many Tribunals  as  it  may  think  fit,  for  the
           determination of any dispute, question or other matter  relating
           to  a  waqf  or  waqf  property,  eviction  of   a   tenant   or
           determination of rights and obligations of the  lessor  and  the
           lessee of such property, under this Act  and  define  the  local
           limits and jurisdiction of such Tribunals.

           (2) Any mutawalli or person interested in a waqf  or  any  other
           person aggrieved by an order made under this Act, or rules  made
           thereunder, may make an application within the time specified in
           this Act or where no such time has been specified,  within  such
           time as may be prescribed, to the Tribunal for the determination
           of any dispute, question or other matter relating to the waqf.

           (3) Where any application made under sub- section (1) relates to
           any waqf property which falls within the territorial  limits  of
           the jurisdiction of two or more Tribunals, such application  may
           be made to  the  Tribunal  within  the  local  limits  of  whose
           jurisdiction the mutawalli or any one of the mutawallis  of  the
           waqf actually and voluntarily resides, carries  on  business  or
           personally works for gain, and, where any  such  application  is
           made to the Tribunal aforesaid, the other Tribunal or  Tribunals
           having jurisdiction shall not entertain any application for  the
           determination of such dispute, question or other matter.

                 Provided that the  State  Government  may,  if  it  is  of
           opinion that it is expedient in the interest of the waqf or  any
           other person interested in the waqf  or  the  waqf  property  to
           transfer  such  application  to  any   other   Tribunal   having
           jurisdiction for the determination of the dispute,  question  or
           other matter relating to such waqf or  waqf  property,  transfer
           such application to any other Tribunal having jurisdiction, and,
           on such transfer, the Tribunal to which the  application  is  so
           transferred, shall deal with  the  application  from  the  stage
           which was reached before the Tribunal from which the application
           has been so transferred, except where the Tribunal is of opinion
           that it is necessary in the interests of justice  to  deal  with
           the application afresh.

           (4) Every Tribunal shall consist of-

                         (a) one person, who shall be a member of the State
           Judicial Service holding a rank, not below that of  a  District,
           Sessions or Civil Judge, Class I, who shall be the Chairman;

                         (b) one person, who shall be an officer  from  the
           State  Civil  Services  equivalent  in  rank  to  that  of   the
           Additional District Magistrate, Member;

                         (c) one person having knowledge of Muslim law  and
           jurisprudence, Member;

                 and the appointment of every such  person  shall  be  made
           either by name or by designation.

           (4A) The terms  and  conditions  of  appointment  including  the
           salaries and  allowances  payable  to  the  Chairman  and  other
           members other than persons appointed as ex officio members shall
           be such as may be prescribed.

           (5) The Tribunal shall be deemed to be a civil court  and  shall
           have the same powers as may be exercised by a civil court  under
           the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908),  while  trying  a
           suit, or executing a decree or order.

           (6) Notwithstanding anything contained  in  the  Code  of  Civil
           Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908),  the  Tribunal  shall  follow  such
           procedure as may be prescribed.

           (7) The decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding upon
           the parties to the application and it shall have the force of  a
           decree made by a civil court.

           (8) The execution of any decision of the Tribunal shall be  made
           by the civil court to which such decision is sent for  execution
           in  accordance  with  the  provisions  of  the  Code  of   Civil
           Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908).

           (9) No appeal shall lie against any decision  or  order  whether
           interim or otherwise, given or made by the Tribunal:

                Provided that a High Court may, on its own motion or on the
           application of the Board or any person aggrieved, call  for  and
           examine the records relating to any dispute, question  or  other
           matter which has been determined by the Tribunal for the purpose
           of  satisfying  itself  as  to  the  correctness,  legality   or
           propriety of such determination  and  may  confirm,  reverse  or
           modify such determination or pass such other  order  as  it  may
           think fit.

           Section 85. Bar of jurisdiction of civil  courts.-  No  suit  or
           other legal proceeding shall lie in  any  civil  court,  revenue
           court and  any  other  authority  in  respect  of  any  dispute,
           question or other matter relating to any waqf, waqf property  or
           other matter which is required  by  or  under  this  Act  to  be
           determined by a Tribunal.”

      11.        In Ramesh Gobindram (Dead) through LRS.  Vs. Sugra  Humayun
      Mirza Wakf1, this Court considered Sections 6(1),  6(5),  7(1),  7(5),
      83, 85  and  few  other  provisions  of  the  Act  and  explained  the
      jurisdiction of the Waqf Tribunal vis-a-vis Civil  Court.  As  regards
      the suit for eviction against the  tenant(s)  of  waqf  property,  the
      Court held that such suit is triable by the Civil Court as it  is  not
      covered by Sections 6              and 7 of the Act.
      12.        The Court in para 35,  page 738 held as follows :
           “35. In the cases at hand the  Act  does  not  provide  for  any
           proceedings before the Tribunal for determination of  a  dispute
           concerning the eviction of a tenant  in  occupation  of  a  wakf
           property or the rights and obligations of  the  lessor  and  the
           lessees of such property. A suit seeking eviction of the tenants
           from what is admittedly wakf property could, therefore, be filed
           only before the civil court and not before the Tribunal.”

      13.        Mr. Renjith Marar, learned counsel for  respondent  No.  1,
      submits that in a subsequent decision  in  Bhanwar  Lal  &  Anr.   Vs.
      Rajasthan Board of  Muslim Wakf and Ors.2,  this  Court  has  taken  a
      different view. According to him, Section 85  of  the  Act  leaves  no
      manner of doubt that the Waqf Tribunal has jurisdiction to decide  the
      suit for  eviction.  It  is  so  because  one  of  the  questions  for
      determination is whether the suit property is waqf property or not.
      14.        The Court in Bhanwar Lal2 considered the decision in Ramesh
      Gobindram1 at quite some length. Besides Ramesh Gobindram1, the  Court
      in Bhanwar Lal2 also considered two other  decisions,  one,  Board  of
      Wakf, West Bengal & Anr.  Vs.  Anis Fatma  Begum  &  Anr.3   and  two,
      Sardar Khan and Ors. Vs.  Syed Nazmul Hasan (Seth) and Ors.4. In  Anis
      Fatma Begum3, this Court had held that the Waqf  Tribunal  constituted
      under Section 83 of the Act will have exclusive jurisdiction  to  deal
      with the questions relating to demarcation of the waqf property.
      15.        Pertinently, the Court in Bhanwar Lal2  held that the  suit
      for cancellation of sale deed was triable by the civil court.
      16.        Bhanwar Lal2  follows  the  line  of  reasoning  in  Ramesh
      Gobindram1. The decision of this Court in Bhanwar Lal2 is not  in  any
      manner inconsistent or contrary to the view taken  by  this  Court  in
      Ramesh Gobindram1.  We fully concur with the view  of  this  Court  in
      Ramesh Gobindram1, particularly with regard to construction put by  it
      upon Sections 83 and 85 of the Act. In Ramesh  Gobindram1,  the  Court
      said :-

           “32. There is, in our view, nothing in  Section  83  to  suggest
           that it pushes the exclusion of the jurisdiction  of  the  civil
           courts extends (sic)  beyond  what  has  been  provided  for  in
           Section 6(5), Section 7 and Section 85 of  the  Act.  It  simply
           empowers the Government to constitute a  Tribunal  or  Tribunals
           for determination of  any  dispute,  question  of  other  matter
           relating to a wakf or wakf property which does  not  ipso  facto
           mean  that  the  jurisdiction  of  the   civil   courts   stands
           completely      excluded      by      reasons       of      such

           33.    It  is  noteworthy   that   the   expression   "for   the
           determination of any dispute, question or other matter  relating
           to a wakf or wakf property"  appearing  in  Section  83(1)  also
           appears in Section 85 of the Act. Section 85 does not,  however,
           exclude the jurisdiction of the civil courts in respect  of  any
           or every question or disputes only because the same relates to a
           wakf or a wakf property. Section 85 in terms provides  that  the
           jurisdiction of the civil court shall stand excluded in relation
           to only such matters as are required by or under this Act to  be
           determined by the Tribunal.

           34.   The crucial question that shall have  to  be  answered  in
           every case where a plea regarding exclusion of the  jurisdiction
           of the civil court is raised is whether the  Tribunal  is  under
           the Act or the Rules required to deal with the matter sought  to
           be brought before a civil court. If it is not, the  jurisdiction
           of the civil court is not  excluded.  But  if  the  Tribunal  is
           required to decide the matter  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Civil
           Court would stand excluded.”

      17.        The matter before us is  wholly  and  squarely  covered  by
      Ramesh Gobindram1. The suit for eviction against the  tenant  relating
      to a waqf property is exclusive triable by the  civil  court  as  such
      suit is not covered by the disputes specified in Sections 6 and  7  of
      the Act.
      18.        In view  of  the  above,  the  impugned  order   cannot  be
      sustained and it is liable to be set aside  and  is  set  aside.   The
      order passed by the Waqf Tribunal on 19.09.2010 is also set aside. The
       order of the Waqf Tribunal dated 18.09.2010 is  restored.  The  Civil
      Court shall now proceed with the suit accordingly.

      19.        Civil Appeals are allowed with no order as to costs.

                                    ( R.M. LODHA )

      NEW DELHI;           .......................J.
      MARCH 31, 2014                ( KURIAN JOSEPH )
            1    .   (2010) 8 SCC 726
           2     .   2013 (11) SCALE 210
           3     .   (2010)  14 SCC 588
           4     .   (2007)  10 SCC 727

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