A look into how wakf trusts connive with looters

[Part 4 of Special Series on waqf properties in Maharashtra]

By Rehan Ansari, TwoCircles.net,

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Mumbai: Mumbai has a unique distinction of having the highest rate of properties in India, so is the case with its wakf properties which are in thousands of acres, encroached by government, semi-government agencies and individual Muslims and Non-Muslims – whoever got chance to lay hand on them.

According to Maharashtra wakf minister, Arif Nasim Khan, the government has encroached nearly 65% of wakf properties in Maharashtra.

As the time passed by encroachers have become tenants and as per Bombay Rent Control Act they have become like the co-owners of the same properties and the trusts have become the landlord.

In 1999, Maharashtra Government introduced redevelopment scheme for old and dilapidated buildings i.e. DC rule 33(7), whereby Municipal Corporation gives 50% more FSI for construction to the builders and in return they redevelop the properties, rehabilitate old tenants and also pay landlords (Trustees) their due.

Trustees, who are fed up with the encroachers or tenants and were worried due to deteriorating condition of wakf properties and meager income, found a solace in this redevelopment scheme.

But the questions arise here are: Who allowed encroachers to settle down at the wakf properties? If the wakf properties can’t be sold then why the wakf board has been regularly issuing the NOC for the sale? What right does the charity commissioner has on the wakf properties? Why aren’t the wakf properties spared under DC Rule 33(7)?

Under construction home of Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai on the land belonging to Maharshtra Wakf Board

When TwoCircles.net surveyed many wakf properties in Mumbai that have been sold it found modus operandi in all the sales same.

Since a wakf property can’t be sold so trustees of a trust don’t get it registered in the wakf board and let it be under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. This is the case with most of the trusts i.e. out of 1880 trust properties only 55 is registered with wakf board.

Trustees pass resolution in a meeting for sale of a wakf property citing that buildings are in dilapidated conditions and they have meager income from it. They also claim that the sale is in the best interest of the trust.

They hire a government registered evaluator who expectedly assesses a wakf property lesser due to its old and dilapidated conditions.

Sometimes they apply for the NOC with the Wakf Board and the board reassesses the situation and sometimes orders an increase in the rate of properties.

After the NOC from the Wakf Board, Trustees issue an advertisement in the newspapers and generally gets one bid from the developer (May be predetermined).

Under the Bombay Public Trust Act, Charity Commissioner has a right to order the sale in the best interest of the trust.

Finally, trustees pass the resolution for sale of properties.

Sachar committee has reported that nearly 80,000 acres of land in Maharashtra belong to the Wakf and it’s a common sense that if they are utilized effectively and for the benefit of Muslims then there will not be need for any Sachar Committee in future but who will bell the cat and how?
Ironically, Maharashtra has a unique amendment, passed in 2007, of course silently, that wakf properties are like government properties.

There must be 15 members including chairman in the wakf board but the apathy of the state government is such that there are only 4 members and the wakf board is working without the chairman. Tarique Anwar, MP, Arif Nasim Khan, MLA and Minister of Wakf, Ms. Shahin Kadri and Adv. A.U. Pathan, member of Maharashtra Bar Council are the members in the Maharashtra Wakf Board.

The saddest part of the whole story is that no agitation, no hue and cry by anyone on the gross loot of wakf properties. Since the amount involved in these properties are thousands of crores of rupees so definitely Trust, trustees, wakf board members, NGOs, Media houses and of course politicians, all get their share.

(The Special Series on wakf properties in Maharashtra concludes with this part)

First part:Any Muslim can challenge the decisions of Wakf Board, rules Wakf Tribunal

Second Part:Shopping malls, high-rise towers built on waqf land in Maharashtra

Third Part:‘We’ not ‘They’ are looting waqf properties