Someone doesn’t want AG to appear in Maharashtra Waqf Board cases: Attorney General writes to SC


Days after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a case that raises an issue as to whether every charitable trust established by someone professing Islam is necessarily a waqf, Attorney General of India KK Venugopal wrote to the Top court Secretary General saying someone is bent upon ensuring that the AG doesn’t argue the Maharashtra Waqf Board cases pending before the court.

Looking at the entirety of what has emerged, the AG has circulated this letter seeking adjournment of the present batch of cases till he recovers and is able to appear in this matter.

The AG had earlier expressed his displeasure at the steps that have been taken in the present case. In his earlier letter to the Supreme Court through its Registrar General (Judicial), the AG had stated that several advocates representing the Maharashtra State Board of Waqfs, including himself, had been removed from the case.

The AG had taken exception to Maharashtra State Board of Waqfs’ action and had said it is not only in violation of his right to audience in any court of law but also amounts to contempt of court.

“Some shocking steps seem to have been taken by whosoever is behind the conduct of this case,” the AG had said.

The AG has again, in the present letter dated August 8, pointed out the following series of events which, according to him, were startling :

Advocate Javed Shaikh, the Special Counsel and AG’s instructing counsel being orally informed on July 30 that the State Government has issued a direction under Section 97 of the Waqf Act, 1995 removing him as special counsel in the Waqf matter.

The new Advocate on Record Shashibhushan P. Adgaonkar circulating a letter saying the waqf board has made an alternate arrangement to go ahead with the matter as AG is unwell.

Advocate Javed Shaikh receiving a letter on August 1 written by the Maharashtra State Board of Waqfs under instructions from the Dept. of Minority Affairs, Govt. of Maharashtra cancelling his appointment as Special Counsel.

The letter has further stated that no instructions for the AG to appear in the case were received after the change of Advocate on Record.

It has, however, been mentioned that the Attorney General has a right to appear in any court in the country under Article76 (3) of the Constitution of India which cannot be superseded by any rules of the Supreme Court of India.

The AG has submitted that the present batch of matters has been pending since 2011, and it did not appear that there was any urgency whatsoever. However, a request for an urgent listing of cases was made, and the matters were thereafter listed before a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana.

The AG has pointed out that not only the legal question of importance, but the transfer of the lands which have been permitted by the Charity Commissioner under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, in his opinion are wholly void.

He has submitted that such transfers are void since Section 112 of the Waqf Act, 1995 provides that any corresponding State law would stand repealed.

The AG has said that, in this background, if there is contempt involved in this case, which he could himself initiate under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, so long as he is the Attorney General, the alleged contemnors may have to purge themselves of the contempt before addressing arguments in relation to the legal issues arising in the matter

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