Amendment Bill takes away Waqf properties from
Minority Ministry over-rules Sachar
Committee and JPC
Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India
New Delhi email@example.com
While framing the Waqf Bill 2010, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has
provided that where the line of succession of Mutawalli (person
responsible for a certain waqf property) fails, the income of the waqf
shall be spent for education, development and welfare of the
However, the word ‘community’ has not been defined anywhere in the
proposed Bill or the existing Waqf Act of 1995. This leaves scope for
the judiciary to dilute the meanings of the word ‘community’.
Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India says that
the word ‘community’ must be replaced in the Waqf Bill 2010 by the group
of words “Muslim Community of India”. Otherwise, the waqf
properties, in addition to being widely encroached, shall no longer be
available for Muslim welfare.
Secondly, as per the existing Waqf Act of 1995, the CEOs of State Waqf
Boards have to be Muslim. But the number of Muslims in Indian
bureaucracy is not more than 2.5%. Hence, the CEO positions are manned
by retired low level government employees, inexperienced public men, or
rarely by government officers but only with additional charge of the
waqf board. This information was collected by the Sachar Committee in
2006. However, Zakat Foundation of India again collected from the State
Waqf Boards fresh information in this regard in 2011 under Right to
Information Act. The condition remains equally pathetic till now.
Because of the CEO not being a high ranking officer, the work of the
state waqf boards suffers. As per Sachar Committee, the CEO should rank
with senior state government officers so that the Board enjoys
sufficient clout with the government in day to day interaction.
Therefore, the Sachar Committee suggested that a new cadre of officers,
(may be named as Indian Waqf Service), should be created for which UPSC
should select such candidates as are conversant with waqf related
requirements. The proposal is well-considered and fully fits into the
constitutional scheme. Yet, the Ministry of Minority Affairs over-ruled
this vital Sachar recommendation without giving any cogent reason. No
deep research was done on the subject. At the level of Waqf Minister,
Prime Minister or the Cabinet the pros and cons of this issue were not
discussed. A brief unthoughtful and prejudiced note of a few words
written by a low level official of the Ministry was dittoed till the top
without proper examination.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqfs recommended that the CEO
should be atleast of the rank of Director in the state government. But
while framing the Waqf Bill 2010, the Ministry of Minority Affairs
over-ruled even the JPC and doubly lowered the level of CEO down to
Under Secretary in the state government.
The Government must create Indian Waqf Service. Till that happens, as
recommended by the JPC, the CEO must rank with atleast Director in the
state government (above the deputy secretary).
Thirdly, the definition of the word ‘encroacher’ as proposed by Sachar
Committee has also been watered down by the Ministry of Minority
Affairs. The following portion, proposed by Sachar Committee has not
been included by the Ministry in the Waqf Bill: “or who has altered the
property leased out to or occupied by him without the prior written
permission of the Wakf Board concerned”. The ‘Statements of Objects and
Reasons’ submitted by the Minority Affairs Ministry to the Parliament
alongwith the proposed Amendment Bill are silent on these vital issues
of omission and commission.
Zakat Foundation of India has demanded that the Select Committee of the
Rajya Sabha currently looking into the Waqf Bill 2010, the Prime
Minister and the UPA chairperson must prevail upon the Ministry of
Minority Affairs and must ensure that necessary amendments are made in
the Bill before it is considered by the Rajya Sabha.