Nizamuddin Markaz case has cross border implications, Centre tells HC

New Delhi: The case registered in relation to the alleged violation of COVID-19 protocols at Nizamuddin Markaz -- 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 Delhi High Court which Monday remarked that the premises can't be kept locked forever.

Justice Mukta Gupta, who was hearing the Delhi Waqf Board's plea to re-open the markaz which has remained shut since March 31 last year, questioned the Centre as to how long it intended to keep the Nizamuddin Markaz locked, saying it can't be kept forever.

Counsel for the Centre stated that a legal action to re-open the markaz 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 markaz, 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 markaz 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.

Senior counsel Ramesh Gupta, representing the Board, argued that the petition has remained pending for more than a year and a half and clarified that his petition pertained to the release of the entire markaz property comprising the masjid, the madrasa and the residential portion.

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