The Delhi Waqf Board on Tuesday assailed in the Delhi High Court the de-listing of its 123 properties by the Centre.

The board contended all these properties are either dargahs, mosques or graveyards, which have always remained in its possession and cannot be taken away now on the basis of a report of a two-member committee.

As the Court listed the matter for further hearing next week, Senior Counsel Rahul Mehra, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, urged for directions for maintenance of status quo on possession of the properties.

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri said that an interim order cannot be passed without hearing the Centre, adding even as per the order under challenge, only physical inspection of the properties is directed.

The Central Government Counsel said, "As on date, only inspection may happen, if at all." "I have to hear them also. Nothing is going to happen," said the judge.

The Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) recently decided to take over 123 properties of the Delhi Waqf Board, including mosques, dargah and graveyards, based on the report of a two-member committee.

The Deputy L&DO, in a letter to Board chairman Amanatullah Khan, had on February 8 informed him about the decision to absolve the Delhi Waqf Board from all matters related to the 123 properties based on the two-member committee's report.

During the hearing, Mehra submitted the dispute pertaining to the properties is over 100 years old and the Centre, in the present case, "outsourced" decision making to the committee which wrongly concluded the board "has no interest" in the properties in spite of representations made to it.

"The order is that I (board) did not appear (before the committee) and show interest in the properties and therefore I absolve you (waqf)," stated Mehra, adding that there is no application of mind or a "source of power" to sustain the decision of delisting.

Earlier, when the Court was hearing another plea concerning the de-listing, the Delhi Waqf Board had said the Centre had no source of power to absolve the board from the properties.

The Court was informed that these 123 properties were clearly demarcated through four surveys conducted in 1970, 1974, 1976 and 1984 and got assent as waqf properties by the President.

With PTI inputs