Historic Win for Surat Municipal Corporation: Mughal Sarai Retained After Waqf Board Controversy

Surat resident Abdullah Jarullah. Jarullah claimed the building, constructed during Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's reign, was a Waqf property donated for pilgrims


Surat : Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has secured a significant victory in a long-standing legal battle with the Gujarat State Waqf Board. The Waqf Board’s contentious decision in November 2021, declaring the SMC headquarters, historically known as Mughal Sarai, as Waqf property, has been quashed by the Waqf Tribunal.

The dispute stemmed from a petition filed in 2016 by Surat resident Abdullah Jarullah. Jarullah claimed the building, constructed during Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign, was a Waqf property donated for pilgrims. He argued that the Waqf Board, as per Sharia law and a Supreme Court judgement, should have control over the property.

Jarullah’s petition, partially approved by the Waqf Board in 2021, empowered the Board to administer the building, raising concerns within the SMC. The Corporation contested the decision, citing historical records and legal arguments.

The Waqf Tribunal’s verdict, delivered on April 3rd, 2024, strongly supported the SMC’s claim. The tribunal critically examined the nature of the building’s construction. They found evidence that the Mughal Sarai was built using funds from the Surat port’s tax revenue, not personal funds of the emperor or his officials. This distinction held significant legal weight.

The tribunal emphasized that “self-acquired property” is a prerequisite for Waqf dedication under Islamic law. Since the Mughal Sarai wasn’t constructed with personal wealth, it could not be classified as Waqf property. This ruling effectively nullified the Waqf Board’s claim.

Advocate Kaushik Pandya, representing the SMC, presented compelling arguments before the tribunal.  The tribunal’s verdict highlighted the importance of scrutinizing historical records and a thorough legal understanding of Waqf principles.

This landmark decision secures the SMC’s ownership of the historic Mughal Sarai building. The verdict also sets a legal precedent regarding the classification of property built with state revenue for Waqf purposes.