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Gareeb Nawaz Mosque Demolition : Masjid's Committee Members Get Protection Against Coercive Action from Allahabad High Court in Forgery Case

Gareeb Nawaz Mosque Demolition

Last week, the  Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court stayed the arrest of the members of the Gareeb Nawaz Masjid Committee. The members of the committee are charged with forging the Documents of the Gareeb Nawaz Mosque, which was demolished earlier this month. 

On May 17, 2021 an administrative order demolished  the Mosque known as the Gareeb Nawaz Masjid in Barabanki. The mosque, was demolished after authorities determined it was an "illegal structure".  The Masjid Committee was in charge of the mosque's operations.

For allegedly using fraud and deception to get the mosque registered as a waqf property, the Barabanki Police Department registered an FIR  against eight people, including the President of the committee, Vice President of the committee, secretary along with the Utter Pradesh Sunni waqf Board Inspector. 

A Bench of Justices Attau Rahman Masoodi and Ajai Kumar Srivastava ruled that no coercive action against the petitioners should be taken, until a police report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. is filed.

The matter before the Court

The petitioners challenged the F.I.R. through a petition under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, and 471 I.P.C., claiming that the F.I.R. was lodged against the petitioners despite the fact that no public document was forged or manipulated in any way by the petitioners.

The FIR was filed against the Committee's President, Mushtaq Ali, Vice-President Waqeel Ahmad, Secretary Mohamad Aneesh, and Dastageer, Afzaal Mohammad Naseem, as well as Utter Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board Inspector Mohammad Taha, and they sought relief from the High Court.

It should be noted that, an order (which is still in effect) was  already passed by the High Court specifically prohibiting demolition activities during pandemic, yet the demolition of  the mosque occurred, as widely reported in the media. 

Submissions made

It was argued that the F.I.R.'s very contents are false and unfounded, and that the alleged mosque was a Waqf by a user and registered as a Waqf property.

It was also claimed that the judicial order of this court has safeguarded the rights. 

The State objected to the writ petition's maintainability because it was unclear what documents were specifically forged by the petitioners; however, it was submitted that the investigation was still ongoing.

It is also claimed that due to a lack of instructions, a clear position could not be brought to the Court's attention; thus, time was requested for filing a counter-affidavit.

As a result, the Court ordered that within three weeks a  counter-affidavit to be filed. 

Case title: Mushtaq Ali & Ors. V. State Of U. P. Thru. Prin. Secy. Home & Ors.

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