Pre-partition graveyard land can’t be put to other use: Punjab and Haryana HC - Hindustan Times
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Pre-partition graveyard land can’t be put to other use: Punjab and Haryana HC

Feb 06, 2023 10:56 PM IST

Graveyard land earmarked before 1947 can’t be put to other use even if no burial has taken at the site for years together, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held.

Chandigarh

The court was hearing appeals from Punjab in which gram panchayats in some districts had leased the land to private persons as no burial had taken place since long. (Representational Photo)
The court was hearing appeals from Punjab in which gram panchayats in some districts had leased the land to private persons as no burial had taken place since long. (Representational Photo)

Graveyard land earmarked before 1947 can’t be put to other use even if no burial has taken at the site for years together, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held.

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The bench of justice Sureshwar Thakur and justice Kuldeep Tiwari said if the Punjab Wakf Board leases the land to a person, it cannot object to the burial in case of death of any member of the Muslim community. Rather, the Wakf Board would have to ensure sufficient space for burial, the bench said.

The court was hearing appeals from Punjab in which gram panchayats in some districts had leased the land to private persons as no burial had taken place since long. Authorities and panchayats had passed the order in this regard under the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1953.

Wakf Board had petitioned against the move, arguing that panchayats had no jurisdiction in this regard and any dispute about such pieces of land can be adjudicated by wakf tribunals.

The issue was about pieces of land marked as “gair mumkin kabaristan” prior to Partition. Subsequent entry of such lands was made as “shamlat deh” after enaction of the 1953 Act and panchayats had raised ownership claims about the said pieces of land and had passed the order on giving lands on lease as sites were not being used for burials.

The court said that gram panchayats had no such jurisdiction to take decision about such pieces of land and Wakf board was custodian of such land and any dispute about such lands can be adjudicated by Wakf tribunal.

It said that any entry in the revenue records declaring the land as “gair mumkin kabaristan”, enjoys conclusively, and is required to be ensured to be protected, despite evidence of prolonged non-use by the Muslim community.

“...the character and nature of the land was required to be kept intact on the spot. The gram panchayats were not empowered to make leases to any person. Therefore, if any commercial establishments are raised on the petitioned lands, the said constructions are required to be undone,” it said.

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