Bihar Shia Wakf Board stands dissolved for about 3 years

By Tarique Anwar,,

Patna: Two and half years on, Bihar Shia Wakf Board still stands dissolved as the state government is yet to constitute an electoral college which will reconstitute the board by electing its office bearers.

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Exhibiting its laidback attitude towards minority issues, the government has not yet managed to find an ‘able’ administrator to supervise Shia Wakf Board.

Bihar Shai Wakf Board came into existence in 1948. It is reconstituted every three years by the state government. But this time even two and half years after the dissolution, the board has not been reconstituted and this has disappointed the community which expected much from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is heading JD (U)-BJP coalition government in the state.

The Shia community has been demanding its reconstitution for many years and they were promised several times but only to be forgotten.

Very recently a delegation of Majlis-e-Ulema wa Khutba Imamia (Patna) met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to put the demand afresh. The chief minister assured them that the controversy on appointment of chairman of Shia Wakf Board will be solved very soon. Nitish also said that no hindrance will come in the path of reconstitution of separate Shia Wakf Board. But nothing happened after that. Still the board has no chairman neither has any administrator.

“As per central wakf act 1995 any state government is not independent to constitute the board. It has to constitute an electoral college comprising a lawyer, a social worker, a cleric of the community, an MLA and MP. The electoral college will be headed by a chief secretary rank IAS officer. Then this electoral college will constitute the board”, said Arif Raza, an official of Shia Wakf Board, to The government is searching an appropriate person for its administrator. Mr Afzal Amanullah, home secretary and principal secretary of state minority commission (additional charge) has been made the chairman of the electoral college. He has been authorized to conduct the election of the board, he said.

Arif Raza, office superintendent, Bihar State Shia Wakf Board also spoke to Shia leaders and scholars on this issue. Mr Asad Raza, a Shia cleric, and Mr Amanat Hussain, a Shia activist, said that they are very hopeful from the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He will definitely solve this matter. “When our delegation met the Chief Minister at his residence on 13th May, this year, and demanded our representation in Urdu Academy and Urdu Advisory Committee, he assured us and kept his word by including one member from Shia Community in the Urdu advisory committee recently constituted under the chairmanship of Dr Kalim Ajiz. This has made us hopeful that the board will also be constituted,” said Amanat Hussain.

Referring to 1995 central wakf act which says: “there will be a single wakf board for Shia and Sunni both and will function under chairmanship of a single person” he questioned how it can be possible when both Shias and Sunnis have different personal laws.

The 1995 central wakf act has, however, exempted Bihar state. A central government communication reads: “The Act provided for establishment of separate Wakf Boards for Shias and Sunnis in the state. If the Shia Wakfs in that State constitute in number more than fifteen percent of all the Wakfs of the State or if the income of the properties of the Shia Wakfs in the State constitutes more than fifteen percent. As a result of this, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have separate Boards for Shias and Sunnis.”

When asked about encroachment on wakf properties due to improper system and headless board, he told: “Yes, most of the properties have been encroached upon and have been illegally occupied. The recent example is a huge commercial complex that has been erected on wakf land on Fraser Road.”

This property, the Fazal Imam Public Charitable and Religious Trust also known as Hasan Manzil, consists of 34 katthas of land. It was gifted to Shia Wakf Board on August 24, 1970. Originally belonging to Patna’s famous Imam family, which once owned most of the lands on Fraser Road, the premises once served as the residence of former AICC president Hasan Imam. A six-storey illegal building has been constructed on the land.

The Patna High Court on May 2, 2008 put restriction on the use of the building. Its order says, “The property shall now remain in the custody of Shia Wakf Board and it is thereby categorically recorded that any person claiming right, title and interest by virtue of any sale, agreement or license in the said property shall be treated as an encroacher in the said property till the adjudication in this case is made.”

Naushad Ahmad, Chairman of Bihar Minority Commission, told that the government will appoint only administrator for the board. The government is searching a suitable person from the community for this post, he said. The government cannot reconstitute the board until the electoral college comes into existence. When asked how much time will they take to form electoral college, he said: “Not sure but we are making effort for its constitution.”

Maulana Anisur Rahman Quasmi, general secretary, Imarat Shariah (Bihar, Jharkhand & Orrissa), is very disappointed with the negligence of the government on the issue. He said that they have met and wrote letters to the Chief Minister to reconstitute both Shia and Sunni Wakf Board, they got no response from the government. The responsibility of constitution of the board and protection of wakf properties is wholly on the state government and it does not want to do it, said Maulana Quasmi to this correspondent.