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Make state Waqf Boards accountable: Central Waqf Council

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Sep 17 (UNI) The Central Waqf Council is seeking more teeth to ensure accountability of state Waqf Boards, which are in charge of property worth hundreds of crores.

These properties, which value more than three-and-a-half lakh, have not been utilised to benefit the community-- the main purpose for which they were endowed-- mainly because of neglect and mismanagement among other reasons.

This state of Affairs has emerged because the state Waqf Boards have been functioning independently without any Central control and monitoring, Secretary of the Central Waqf Coucil M R Haque told UNI.

''Large number properties are under encroachment or illegal occupation, and the state Waqf Boards are not able to extricate them for lack of will and sound management,'' he said.

For example, in Delhi, there were 1640 tenants on Waqf properties, but only 750 were paying rent, he said, adding the total number of such properties in the capital was 240.

In this context, efforts were being made to pursue state governments to exempt Waqf properties from the Rent Control Act, he added.

''The role of the Central Waqf Council, constituted under the Waqf Act, is to advise the Central Government on the functioning of the Waqf Boards, and that implies a fair amount of monitoring. However, under the Waqf Act, its powers have not been defined '' said Mr Haque.

He, however, sought to clarify that ''the Council itself does not want to cut short the powers of state Waqf Boards. It only wants a mechanism to make them accountable in the interest of the community.'' Mr Haque said besides mismanagement, corruption and lack of accountability, state Waqf Boards were facing one more problem, relating to the frequent and arbitrary dismissal of the state government.

''These Boards function at the sweet will of the government, and with change of power, their composition is either changed or their power usurped,'' said the Central Waqf Council Secretary.

So apart from making the Waqf Boards accountable, we also wanted that the accountability of state governments should be fixed, he said.

He said changes in the Waqf Act were badly needed to take care of all these issues. The First Waqf Act after Independence was enacted in 1954, and then the amended Waqf Act came into force in 1995.

The Act applies to all states except Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Dargah of Khawaj Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer is also out of the purview of the Act. It is governed by the Central Government- constituted Dargah Managing Community.

''Now we want that a new Waqf Act should be introduced in the next session of Parliament, as it was high time that the Waqf affairs were properly regulated,'' he added.

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