Andhra court declares prime land allotted to MNCs Wakf property

April 3rd, 2012 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, April 3 (IANS) In a landmark judgment, the Andhra Pradesh High Court Tuesday ruled that 1,654 acres of prime land allotted to several multinational companies on the outskirts of Hyderabad is Wakf land.

A division bench of the high court dismissed a batch of writ petitions and civil revision petitions by Lanco Hills Technology Park and others and upheld the state Wakf Board’s contention that the land at Manikonda village estimated to be worth Rs.32,000 crore belonged to it.

The bench comprising Justice V.V.S. Rao and Justice R. Kanta Rao declared that 1,654.79 acre land belonged to Dargah Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali, a Wakf institution and not to the government. It ruled that once a land is declared Wakf land it remained so forever and its nature or character can’t be changed.

Lanco Hills owned by Congress MP L. Rajagopal and others including Microsoft, Infosys, Wipro, Polaris and Emaar Properties, in their writ petition had challenged the injunction orders issued by the Wakf Tribunal last year not to alienate the land or take up any construction activity on it.

Masood Khan, standing counsel of the Wakf Board, told IANS that the court also dismissed the contention of the beneficiaries that the board has no right to issue errata notification. Under this notification, the board had declared the land a Wakf property.

The land to the MNCs was allotted by then government of N. Chandrababu Naidu through Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC). Dubai-based realty major Emaar Properties was allotted 400 acres for an integrated township and golf course. According to the Wakf Board officials, software giant Microsoft got 54.79 acres, Infosys 50 acres, Wipro 30 acres, Polaris 7.89 acres, and Lanco Hills 108.10 acres.

Except Lanco Hills, all others have completed the constructions on the land. Lanco Hills, which was allotted the land by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government, is building $1.5 billion mega project comprising residential area, IT towers in the Special Economic Zone, retail and hospitality.

The ownership dispute between the Lanco and others and the Wakf Board was on since 2007. The government had also defended its allotment to MNCs on the ground that it was government land as the land was acquired after payment of commutation to the custodian of the property. The court, however, upheld the Wakf Board contention that a
property once declared Wakf vests with the Almighty.

“We hail the high court order. It has upheld our contention,” Wakf Board chairman Syed Ghulam Afzal Biyabani alias Khusro Pasha told IANS.

“It is a landmark judgment with far-reaching consequences. This will act as a deterrent against illegal allotments of Wakf land by the government,” said Masood Ahmed.

“From the next time the officials will be cautious while allotting Wakf lands in the name of APIIC or some other camouflage,” he added.

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