Nizamuddin centre can’t be kept locked forever: HC

The case registered in relation to the alleged violation of COVID-19 protocols at Nizamuddin Markaz (centre) — where the Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held in March last year amid COVID-19 pandemic — is serious and has “cross borders implications”, the Centre told the High Court which on Monday remarked that the premises can’t be kept locked forever.

Justice Mukta Gupta, who was hearing the Delhi Waqf Board’s plea to reopen the centre which has remained shut since March 31 last year, questioned the Centre as to how long it intended to keep the Nizamuddin centre locked, saying it can’t be “kept forever”.

Counsel for the Centre stated that a legal action to reopen the centre can only be initiated by the lessee of the property and a resident of the premises has already filed a plea to handover the residential portion of the centre, which is pending final adjudication before another judge of the High Court.

“Only on legal view, the petition can be disposed of. The Waqf Board has no power to overstep the lessee,” said the counsel for the Centre Rajat Nair.

However, the judge said “some persons were in possession of the property. Due to the pandemic, an FIR was registered.. [and] you take possession as case property. It has to be handed over. It can’t be that the property is kept forever [subject to court orders]. What is your stand on the facts of the case? You tell me from whom you took it. How long will you keep it locked as case property.”

The court issued notice on an application filed by a member of the Managing Committee of the centre in question for his impleadment and allowed the Waqf Board to file its reply to the Centre’s affidavit and posted the matter for next hearing on November 16.

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