Wakf Properties – We could learn a few lessons?

November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under National, newsletter-lead

Wakf BoadWakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognized by Muslim Law. The Wakf Institutions deal with the religious, social and economic life of Muslims. They are not only supporting Mosques, Dargahs etc. but many of them support Schools, Colleges, Hospitals and Musafirkhanas. Proper registration of Wakfs started after independence and today we have more than three-lakh registered Wakfs in the country.

Wakf Legislation
In the absence of a national legislation, the Parliament enacted the Wakf Act in 1954 to provide better administration and supervision of Wakfs through State Wakf Boards. Being a pioneering effort, the actual working of the Wakf Act, 1954 brought out many deficiencies and had to be amended in 1959, 1964 and 1969. It was subsequently replaced by a more comprehensive legislation in 1995 enacted on the basis of consensus at various levels on the Report of a Committee. The Committee was set up by the Government following an assurance to this effect to the House during a discussion on the Wakf (Amendment) Bill, 1969. The Committee was asked to look into the working of the Wakf Act and for making an inquiry into the position of Wakfs at all levels. The Wakf Act, 1995 came into force in the entire country except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Wakf Act
The Act directs State Governments to constitute State Wakf Boards in their respective states, appoint Survey Commissioners for survey of Wakf properties and set up Wakf Tribunals for determination of disputes and matters relating to Wakfs. The Act provided for establishment of separate Wakf Boards for Shias and Sunnis in the same state if the Shia Wakfs in that State constitute in number more than fifteen percent of all the Wakfs in 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. The Act also provides that in a State where there are Shia Wakfs but no Shia Wakf Board, at least one of the members would be a Shia Muslim. The Act restricts the power of Mutawallis in the interest of better management of Wakf properties.

State Wakf Boards
So far 21 States viz., Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, NCT of Delhi, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and West Bengal have constituted Wakf Boards. Five Union Territories, viz., Andaman & Nicobar Island, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry have also constituted Wakf Boards.
Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu have not yet constituted the tribunals as required under Section 83 of the Wakf Act, 1995. Fourteen States and Union Territories have notified the Wakf Rules. Another six States have only framed regulations while the remaining States/UTs are yet to take action in this regard.

Survey of Wakf properties
The survey and identification of Wakf properties constitute an important measure to prevent encroachment. For this purpose Survey Commissioners are to be appointed. All the States and UTs except Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Daman and Diu have appointed Survey Commissioners for carrying out the survey of Wakf properties. Except in Himachal Pradesh, the survey has not yet been completed in any State or UT, which makes it difficult to identify the Wakf properties and secure them against encroachments and misuse. The Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. Meira Kumar recently at a conference of Chairpersons of State Wakf Boards called for expediting the survey work. She urged the State Boards to “complete records of properties owned by Wakf Boards and register the succession of Muttawalis.”

Development of Urban Wakf Properties
With a view to protect vacant Wakf land from encroachers and to develop it on commercial lines for generating more income in an order to widen the scope for welfare activities, Central Wakf Council has been implementing a Non-Plan scheme with yearly grant-in-aid from the Central Government. This scheme was started during 1974-75 with the annual grant-in-aid from Central Government to Central Wakf Council. Under the scheme, loan is extended to State Wakf Boards/institutions for the construction of economically viable buildings on Wakf land, like commercial complex, marriage halls, hospitals, cold storage etc. Under the scheme, the Government of India has released grant-in-aid amounting to Rs. 2,540.11 lakh up till 31.3.2004.

So far the Council has taken up 168 projects for construction of commercial complexes. The amount of these projects has been given to the State Wakf Boards in form of interest free loan. The amount thus repaid forms a Revolving Fund of the Council, which is again utilized for the smaller projects on the Wakf land by advancing loan up to the tune of Rs. 20 lakh only. 83 such projects have been taken up so far.

Most of the loanee Wakf Boards/Institutions do not adhere to the repayment schedule. As a result, as on 31.3.2004 an amount of Rs. 9.40 crore (Principal 5.54 crore Donation Rs. 3.86 crore) was outstanding on the loanee Wakfs of 12 States. During current financial year, the Wakfs have paid Rs. 2.01 crore (Principal Rs. 1.59 crore Donation Rs. 42.22 lakh) till February 2005.

Educational Scheme
While advancing loans, the Wakf Council puts two conditions. These are: first, the loanee Wakf institutions would pay 6 per cent donation on the outstanding loan to the Education Fund of the Council meant for educational upliftment of the poor Muslims; and secondly, after the repayment of the loan, they would spend 40 per cent of their enhanced income on the education of the Muslims.

The 6 per cent donation received from loanee Wakfs on the outstanding loan for the development of Urban Wakf properties, as well as the interest accrued on the Bank deposits of the Revolving Fund form the Education Fund of the Council. This fund is utilized granting scholarship to the poor students pursuing Technical/Professional Degree Courses @ Rs. 6,000/- per annum and ad-hoc grant to the poor and needy students of general degree courses @ Rs. 3,000/- per annum. The Council also provides from the Fund matching grant to the State Wakf Boards for providing scholarship to the School students, Madrasa students and to the students doing Technical/Professional Diploma courses in their respective States. Grant is also given for the establishment of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the Muslim concentrated areas.

8,795 scholarships have been granted by the Council to students of technical/degree courses like MBBS, BUMS, BAMS, B.Tech and B.Sc(Ag.) etc. till March 2004. Similarly in 1,816 cases “Ad-hoc” grant have been given under the scheme of Ad-hoc grant to poor and needy students. 598 Voluntary Organizations/Technical Institutes have been assisted for technical training/vocational training. The Central Wakf Council has approved 9 ITIs to be set up in the Muslim concentrated areas under the newly launched scheme.

While protection and development of Wakf properties by the State Wakf Boards remains the prime concern of the Central Government, it wants them to increasingly focus on education of Muslims particularly the girl child. Addressing the Sate Wakf Chairpersons, the Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. Meira Kumar drove their attention to the address of the President to the joint session of the Parliament last month. She said, “Hon’ble President has called for a new knowledge revolution and a new wave of investment in education at all levels of the knowledge pyramid from elementary school in villages to world-class research institutions. In my humble opinion, there can be no better contribution than utilizing our financial resources of wakfs for promotion of girls’ education, particularly in the rural and inaccessible areas.

– PIB. fwd: kennedy dias

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