Published On : Wed, Nov 29th, 2017

Legality of orphanage property sold to Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia in question

Mumbai: Almost 10 years after Abdul Mateen, a teacher and journalist from Jalna district of Maharashtra filed a petition against the sale of Waqf land in the upmarket Altamount road to Reliance Industries owner Mukesh Ambani, the Maharashtra Wakf has finally replied.

In the affidavit filed by Sandesh Tadvi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Maharashtra Wakf Board (MWB) has said, “a mischief was committed by the chairman and the then CEO that they passed a resolution dated 9/3/2005 thereby ratifying the sale of the land.”

The ratification of the said land which is in the eye of the controversy is that of a piece of property owned by Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja orphanage trust which used to run an orphanage for ‘providing maintenance and education of poor and destitute children belonging to the Khoja community.’

The land was sold to Ambani’s company Antilia Commercial Private Limited (ACPL) in 2002, after the orphanage trust sought permission from charity commissioner to do so on August 27, 2002. No permission from the Wakf was taken.
Tadvi in his affidavit states that in 2003 Wakf had published a list of all the properties that it owned and this was not challenged by the trustees of the orphanage by filing any suit in the Wakf tribunal.

It was much later that the trust filed a petition in Bombay High Court challenging MWB claim that it came under Wakf. After the trust won the case in Bombay High Court, Wakf challenged it in Supreme Court, where it is still pending.

However, on getting to know about the sale of property, CEO of MWB issued notices to orphanage trust as well as ACPL in 2004. Both claimed that the it was not Wakf land so permission of Wakf was not needed and since they already had a go ahead from the charity commissioner, the orphanage trust challenged the notice sent by MWB by filing a suit.

However, on March 9, 2005 the orphanage trust and MWB came out with an amicable settlement and a resolution was passed ratifying the sale. This 2005 resolution by MWB is being called a ‘mischief’ by Tadvi.

Tadvi’s affidavit states that during the pendency of the suit the chairman of the MWB was a political person who settled the matter that the trustees would accept that that the trust is a Wakf and Wakf fund as applicable would be paid to the MWB. The settlement was only to that extent. Accordingly the trustees agreed and deposited 16 lakhs to the Wakf fund.

Tadvi has said that, “The stand of MWB is clear that the permission granted by the charity commissioner allowing sale of property and the ratification of sale, all of it is illegal.”

He added, “It is against the provisions of Wakf act as no prior sanction of the board was taken, the resolution has to be passed by a majority and the permission requires to be published in an official gazette which was not done.”
“Therefore the ratification is illegal and the property needs to be restored,” said the affidavit, adding that the MWB is however still waiting for an outcome of the Supreme Court order.