Now, Shani temple in  throes of a land row

The Bombay HC has refused to intervene in the case filed before the Wakf Tribunal claiming that the land was Wakf property and as such cannot be sold to the temple trust by anybody

NEW DELHI : The famous Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra is passing through difficult times as on the heels of the Bombay High Court lifting the centuries-old ban on entry of women into its sanctum sanctorum, it is facing a dispute over 22 acres of land its trust acquired way back in 2004 to build amenities for thousands of pilgrims visiting the shrine every day.

The Shaineswar Devasthanam Trust has succeeded in securing an order from the Supreme Court for a status quo on the property on a petition filed by it to challenge Sayyad Shaukat Mehboob and five others moving the Aurangabad-based Maharashtra Wakf Tribunal to cancel the sale deed. The Apex Court not only ordered the status quo but also restrained the Wakf Tribunal from passing any final order in the matter. The trust rushed the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court refused to intervene in the case filed before the Wakf Tribunal claiming that the land was the Wakf property and as such cannot be sold to the temple trust by anybody.

In a brief order, the Bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel ruled “Status quo as on today shall be maintained with regard to the possession of the property in question. The tribunal shall not pass any final orders after hearing the parties concerned.” The land is currently in the possession of the trust.

Mehboob’s case before the Wakf Tribunal is that it should quash the sale deed as the Newasa tehsildar had given possession of the land to the trust “without the authority of law.”

While the Wakf Tribunal has jurisdiction to try any complaint regarding a Wakf property, the temple trust lawyers Jayant Bhushan and Sandeep Deshmukh argued before the Supreme Court that only the civil court can try the case for cancellation of a sale deed as laid down by it (Supreme Court) in the Bhanwar Lal versus Rajasthan Board of Muslim Wakf.

They claimed that the property is not shown in the Wakf register and hence the tribunal cannot adjudicate as the dispute does not fall under Section 6 and 7 of the Wakf Act, 1995 for tribal by the tribunal.

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