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July 11, 2011 (New Delhi): The union minorities affairs minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, has stated as follows:

 Abantika Ghosh, Times News Network, 30 June, 2011, 12.04am IST (link):

"We are opposed to some recommendations like the Waqf cadre because we do not want to create a different world for the Muslim citizens of our country."

Md. Ali,,  29 June 2011 - 6:29pm (link):

“If you have a cadre of Muslim officers under the government, what else is ghettoization?”
“You can’t create a special service for Muslims.”

Zakat Foundation of India respectfully asks Mr Khurshid as to why has he chosen the constitutional institution of ministership to commit unconstitutional discrimination (prohibited in article 15) against Muslim citizens on the basis of their religion ? 

In the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh there are statutory and administrative arrangements in place by virtue of which separate selections are made through provincial Public Service Commissions for special cadres & posts of Additional Commissioners, Joint Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners to manage the affairs of the temples and Hindu religious endowments. As per legal requirement, only those candidates can apply for these positions who profess Hindu religion; the public notices for annual recruitments clarify this specific qualification. The salaries etc and pensions of these officers are paid out of the consolidated fund of the state concerned. On top of this strongly built special purpose exclusive bureaucratic hierarchy, in all the above mentioned states, there is an IAS officer sitting as Commissioner and his being a Hindu is also a pre-requisite.

How does Mr Salman Khurshid reconcile this state of affairs with his refusal to institute Indian Waqf Service except through the string of state discrimination whose specific prohibition in article 15 forms the basic fabric of our sacred constitutional structure ?

In the Waqf Act no qualification is prescribed for the post of Secretary of the Central Waqf Council and for the posts of CEO in the State Waqf Boards except that the CEO should be Muslim. In this regard, in 2005-06, the Sachar Committee collected information from various state waqf boards. Later, Zakat Foundation of India again collected information for the decade 2001-2011 from the state waqf boards under RTI Act. It was found that the positions of Waqf CEOs have been and are being manned by veterinary doctor, survey inspector, naib tahsildar, BDO, junior employment officer, teacher, advocate, fresh graduate, etc. Even if a state government officer is ever posted, though rarely, the Waqf CEO is invariably his ‘additional charge’. That is to say, he has to work daily for eight hours to discharge his primary responsibility in another government position where he is substantially posted and can look at Waqf CEO work, if at all, in additional time. While, the Waqf CEO’s work is vast, diverse, complicated and demands expertise that comes from specified training & competence. Below the CEO there are, usually, clerical staff members though some of them are designated as ‘officer’. All of them including the CEO are paid their salary by the state waqf board from the scarce Waqf funds. Compare this scenario with the management of temples and Hindu religious endowments & institutions. There are batteries of high level service cadres of officers selected through public service commissions. Their salaries and pensions are paid from the state exchequer.  

The Central Waqf Council is the apex waqf body. It is managed on day to day basis by an officer designated as Secretary. The Waqf Act does not provide any qualification for a person to be appointed as Secretary, CWC. Compare this with the management of temples and Hindu religious endowments & institutions in the above mentioned states. The day to day work is done of exclusive full time senior Hindu IAS officer who is appointed as Secretary to the state government-cum-Commissioner for the management of temples and Hindu religious endowments & institutions in the state. This is the highest rank in state bureaucracy.

The Waqf Amendment Bill 2010 proposes that the CEO of the state waqf board should be of the rank of under secretary to the state government that is the lowest rank in state bureaucracy. Here too one can immediately notice evident discrimination. For management of temples etc the state’s highest bureaucrat is exclusively working. But for tens of thousands of waqf properties even in 2011 the central government has reluctantly agreed for the state bureaucracy’s lowest level status. Besides, there is no mention in the Bill as to from where even a Muslim under-secretary level officer shall always be forthcoming for being posted as CEO. This remains a million dollar question unanswered by the government while presenting the Waqf Amendment Bill 2010. Yet, the government chose to say no to institute Indian Waqf Service. 

In our country’s higher bureaucracy there are not more than 2.5% Muslims (against 13.4% of their population at all-India level). One can imagine the constraints of always finding a Muslim officer of the required seniority to be posted as CEO of state waqf board. As against that, Hindus in higher bureaucracy are more than ninety percent. Hence, there is always a senior Hindu IAS officer available to be posted to head the management of temples and religious endowments & institutions of the state. To boot, this senior bureaucrat is supported by an exclusive cadre of next rank Hindu bureaucrats. All of them form part of the state’s bureaucratic fraternity. Hence, the management of temples and religious endowments & institutions becomes a part of the overall governance of the state. As against that, the Waqf management, at best, receives a poor, step-brotherly treatment from the state. 

Armed with the required order of Central Information Commission, the Zakat Foundation of India inspected the file of the Ministry of Minority Affairs pertaining to the implementation of the Sachar Committee Report. It found that implementation of the recommendation to institute a separate cadre of officers to manage waqfs (say, Indian Waqf Service - IWS) went by default. Deputy Secretary Mr Virendra Singh wrote a very brief, non-convincing three line note saying that the IWS is not feasible. The ministry’s record does not show that at any higher level above him, this issue was ever examined in detail. The arguments given by Sachar Committee (based on country wide tours, national roundtable conferences, obtaining information from all the state waqf boards & central waqf council, benefiting from consultants, consulting the mutawallis, etc) have not been countered by the ministry. No alternative methodology has been created to ensure that senior Muslim officers are always available for being posted as CEOs in state waqf boards and as Secretary in central waqf council.   

The Congress manifesto of 2009 took pride in informing the Muslim community of India that the implementation of the Sachar Committee Report is under way. Thus, it endorsed the announcement made in this regard by Smt Sonia Gandhi in 2007. This also goes with the spirit of the UPA’s common minimum program. With so much good intention of the current political dispensation at the centre, coupled with a clear cut case to accept the Sachar Committee’s most reasonable recommendation, Mr Salman Khurshid and the Ministry of Minority Affairs need to revisit the issue and create Indian Waqf Service.


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