A trust structure running a mosque in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district has appealed to the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court against the Collector’s order banning entry to the premises following a complaint alleging that the structure has a “temple look”.
Trust advocate SS Kazi said the petition will be taken up for hearing on July 18.
The petition, filed through Jumma Masjid Trust Committee president Altaf Khan, claimed that the Collector had issued an “arbitrary and illegal” order on July 11, directing them to hand over the keys of the mosque to the chief officer of Erndol Municipality. According to the order, at present only two persons are allowed to offer prayers in the mosque and no one else can enter, Mr. Qazi said.
The order was passed under Sections 144 and 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, according to which the status quo shall be maintained for final determination of land disputes.
According to the petition, the mosque had existed for decades and the Maharashtra government had declared the structure of the mosque as an ancient and historical monument; It is listed in the Schedule of Protected Monuments.
The petitioner said that neither the Archaeological Department nor even the State Government had received any complaint in this regard.
In May, the Pandavwada Sangram Samiti of Erandol taluk submitted a petition to the Collector, claiming that the ancient monument had the “look of a temple” and therefore the possession of the Muslim community must be vacated, it said.
The meeting also demanded the removal of “illegal constructions” and the closure of a madrasa run by trustees.
Following the complaint, the Collector issued a notice to the petitioner trust on June 14, directing the trustees to attend the hearing on June 27.
The petition claims that the trustees appeared in the collector’s office but as he was busy that day, no hearing took place.
On a later date, the petitioner trust sought time from the Collector to go through the complaint and file its response, the petition said.
“The learned Collector was then in no mood to hear anything from the petitioner and on 11.07.2023, without giving any opportunity to the petitioner, the Collector, Jalgaon, passed an order under Sections 144 and 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” the petition said.
The petition contended that the Collector’s order was arbitrary, illegal and was passed in haste without giving the petitioner an opportunity to present his case.
It sought to quash and set aside the order.