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Waqf boards-Their governance and purpose

Waqf boards-Their governance and purpose

Tag:GS-2|| Governance & Social Justice|| Vulnerable Sections|| Religious Minorities

Why in News?

  • The Uttar Pradesh government has recommended a CBI inquiry into the ‘irregular’ sale, purchase and transfer of Waqf land in the State.
  • The Home Department requested a probe into the sale, purchase, and transfer of the land by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Shia Central Waqf Board.

What is ‘Waqf’?

  • Waqf is the property given in the name of God for religious and charitable purposes.
  • In legal terms, permanent dedication by a person professing Islam, of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognized by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable.
  • A waqf can be formed through a deed or instrument, or a property can be deemed waqf if it has been used for religious or charitable purposes for a long period of time.
  • The proceeds are typically used to finance educational institutions, graveyards, mosques, shelter homes, provide medicines for needy,

What can be a Waqf?

  • A waqf may include both movable and immovable properties.
  • It may include company shares, accessories of immovable properties, books or money.
  • The subject of the Waqf must be in the ownership of the dedicator. One cannot dedicate someone else’s property.
  • The dedication in such an arrangement is permanent.
  • A waqf can only be created by a Muslim and the person must have attained the age of majority according to the Indian law and should be of sound mind.

How is a waqf governed?

  • Waqf Boards are trusts that look after all the property (donated) used for religious purposes and activities.
  • There are locals Waqf, state Waqf Boards, and the Central Waqf Council.
  • Technically, all mausoleums and burial grounds are on Waqf land.
  • The original legislation that started off these trusts in independent India –Waqf Act, 1954
  • Amendments in 1995 and 2013.
  • A survey commissioner under the Act lists all properties declared as waqf by making local investigation, summoning witnesses and requisitioning public documents.
  • The waqf is managed by a mutawalli, who acts as a supervisor.

Legally, what is a Waqf Board?

  • A Waqf Board is a juristic person with the power to acquire and hold property and to transfer any such property.
  • The board can sue and be sued in a court as it is recognized as a legal entity or juristic person.
  • The Waqf Board has powers under the law to administer the property and take measures for the recovery of lost properties of any waqf, to sanction any transfer of immovable property of a waqf by way of sale, gift, mortgage, exchange or lease.
  • However, the sanction shall not be given unless at least two-thirds of the members of the Waqf Board vote in favor of such transactions.

State Waqf Board

  • Each state has a Waqf Board
    • Headed by a Chairperson,
    • one or two nominees from the state government,
    • Muslim legislators and parliamentarians,
    • Muslim members of the State Bar Council,
    • Recognized scholars of Islamic theology and
    • Mutawalli of the waqfs with an annual income of Rs 1 lakh and above.

 Central Wakf Council

  • Central Waqf Council is a statutory body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Minority Affairs was set up in 1964 as per the provision given in the Waqf Act, 1954 as Advisory Body to the Central Government on matters concerning the working of the Waqf Boards
  • However, the role of the Council was expanded significantly under the provisions of the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013.
  • The Council has been empowered to advise the Central Government, State Governments and State Waqf Boards.
  • The Council consists of Chairperson, who is the Union Minister In-charge of Waqf and such other members, not exceeding 20 in number appointed by the Government of India.
  • Presently Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union Minister of Minority Affairs the ex-officio Chairperson of the Central Waqf Council.
  • The 12th Council was constituted on 4th February 2019.

How many Waqfs in India?

  • There are about 5,12,556 registered and non-registered waqf properties in India.
  • Currently, there are more than 35,000 Waqf institutions across India.
  • 32 state Wakf Boards across the country in twenty-nine states/Union territories.
  • States like Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, and the UT Daman & Diu have no wakf Board at present.

Encroachment of Waqf properties

  • Some of the Waqf land in various parts of India is encroached.
  • As many as 16,844 waqf properties in India have been encroached upon by private and public bodies, according to official data.
  • Reasons
    • Waqf properties are prime land in most cases.
    • Rising land prices and the general scarcity of land.

  • Some monuments that were either abandoned or in ruins just after independence, or are spectacular with great historical importance, are under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Not just Muslim monuments, but several Hindu, Christian and Sikh monuments too are ‘living’, where prayers continue —like the Jagannath temple in Puri or the Bom Jesus Cathedral in Goa.
  • Friday prayers are held at the mosque at the Taj, and the monument is not open for viewing that day.

The Taj Mahal controversy,2005

  • In 2005, the Sunni Waqf board demanded the handover of Taj mahal from ASI to itself.
  • Argument -All burial places and mausoleums are Waqf property, and because the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built for a Mughal Empress, Shah Jahan’s wife, it should also be handed over to the Waqf.
  • Waqf board lost the case in the Supreme court.

UP Sunni Waqf Board and Ayodhya Dispute

  • According to the Waqf Act, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board has the power to administer the disputed site.
  • In 1945, in a suit before a Faizabad judge between the Sunni and Shia Waqf Boards, it was held that the Babri Masjid is a Sunni Waqf.
  • The Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh became a defendant in 1989.

 Way forward

  • The judiciary must be vigilant and resourceful in ensuring that the dispute remains within its jurisdiction.
  • Only a judicially driven solution is likely to command constitutional legitimacy in these kind of cases