<b> By Pritam Singh Tinna, Twocircles.net</b>
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs said that the Centre, National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO) and Central Waqf Council together have launched a campaign to utilise the Waqf properties for the socio-economic-educational empowerment of minorities, especially Muslims.The Minority Affairs Ministry has been working on different strategies for the welfare of Muslim community which include protection and development of Waqf properties, he added.
Naqvi stated this while inaugurating All India Waqf Conference in New Delhi on Saturday. January 7. He said that several States have come forward for better utilisation of Waqf properties, for the progress of Muslims. Most states have been performing well but more needs to be done by all the States and UTs.
All States should constitute the three-Member Tribunals, the Minister said further. Naqvi said that all efforts are being made to ensure that all Waqf Boards and their records across the country are computerised and Minority Affairs Ministry has been providing all possible help to the State Waqf Boards. The Computerisation of Waqf Boards and their properties will help in ensuring transparency in the functioning of Waqf Boards.
Addressing the members, Naqvi said, “Around 1.2 lakh Waqf properties have been identified. The revenue-generating capacity of all these properties is around Rs, 12,000 crores but the actual revenue that comes from these properties is only 163 crores. If we are able to generate more revenue out of these properties then that can be utilised for the welfare of the Muslim community”. Along with this issues like computerization of the Waqf records and strengthening of Waqf boards were talked about.
Appreciating all participants for their efforts in ensuring that all auqafs under their charge are properly maintained, controlled, he urged to use the income from such properties to achieve the laid objectives for which such auqafs were created. He urged them to extend their full cooperation in implementing the Waqf Act, Lease Rules, relevant schemes etc., which will not only help in computerization of all records but will also increase the income of the Waqf Boards/Muttawallis. During the meetings, powerpoint presentations on Waqf issues were made by the Ministry of Minority Affairs; Central Waqf Council; NAWADCO, Haryana, Karnataka and Kerala State Waqf Boards and extensive deliberations were held on all the items of agenda.
Speaking on the occasion Ameising Luikham, the Secretary, the Ministry of Minority Affairs said that under the provisions of the amended Waqf Act, 1995, the Ministry of Minority Affairs notified the Waqf Properties Lease Rules on 3.6.14. These rules provide for restriction on grant of lease in certain cases; procedure to be followed for lease/registration/renewal of lease properties; rights and obligations of the lessor and lessee etc.
Based on the difficulties faced by some State Waqf Boards in implementing the notified rules, some amendments therein were modified on 25.8.2015. One of the important provisions of the Act relates to the framing of Waqf Rules by the State/UT Governments. For assisting the State/UT Governments in this regard, the Ministry of Minority Affairs prepared the relevant model rules and provided copies thereof to all States/UTs on 18.7.16 for consideration. However, most states are yet to notify revised rules. He hoped that constructive and positive results will emerge from today’s deliberations.
Ashok Pai, CEO, NAWADCO said that income of merely Rs 163 crores from huge Waqf properties shows that steps need to be taken to improve the management of Waqf properties. Emphasising the effective implementation of Lease Rules under revised Act, he promised to extend all possible help in developing the Waqf properties. He said across the country 100 properties have been identified and intentions received for developing 35 properties, so far.
Mujibullah Zafari, the special officer of Karnataka state Waqf board, spoke with Twocircles.net. He said, “NAWADCO officials need to pay attention to the problems faced at the regional level like the encroachment of Waqf properties and their identification and documentation”. Sultan Mohiuddin, the law officer of Telangana state Waqf board, told Twocircles.net, “According to section 112, after the implementation of the present Act, the old Act under which we had taken decisions are not being accepted by the Court. These issues need to be looked at.”
To deal with complaints regarding Waqf properties, one-man “Board of Adjudication” will be established soon at the Centre level to be headed by a retired Supreme Court Justice or retired High Court Chief Justice. Three-member Tribunals are being established in the States, and about 15-16 states have established these tribunals.