Tussle Between the Union Government and the Delhi Waqf Board

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    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    In News

    • The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has taken over 123 properties taken care of by the Delhi Waqf Board.

    About

    • These properties include mosques, dargah and graveyards, and the Union Government has taken over these properties based on the report of a two-member committee on denotified Waqf properties.
      • This committee was set up following a Delhi High Court order.
    • The Waqf Board has challenged in the High Court the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs letter which “absolves” the board from all matters pertaining to 123 properties.

    What is the Stand of the Waqf Board?

    • The Waqf Board which had gone to court following the delisting of 123 properties, and asked for a halt to the surveys being conducted, filed a fresh application after the demolition of the boundary wall of the mosque-madrasa complex at Babur Road. 
      • The Delhi High Court, however, allowed the survey to continue. 

    Centre’s Stand

    • The Centre opposed the Waqf Board’s plea against inspection of the properties under question, and claimed that the Delhi Waqf Board is not and cannot be the owner of any of the 123 properties and at best could only be a custodian, that too only if it’s a Waqf property.
    • The survey of some of the leading mosques and dargahs continues for now though the graveyards have not been touched yet.

    What is Waqf?

    • The very literal meaning of Waqf is detention or confinement and prohibition. 
    • As per Islam, it is the property that is now available only for religious or charitable purposes, and any other use or sale of the property is prohibited. 
    • As per Sharia law, once Waqf is established, and the property is dedicated to Waqf, it remains as Waqf property forever.

    Central Waqf Council

    • It is a statutory body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Minority Affairs that was set up in 1964 as per the provision given in the Waqf Act, 1954 as Advisory Body to the Central Government on matters concerning the working of the Waqf Boards and the due administration of Auqaf.
    • However, the role of the Council was expanded significantly under the provisions of the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013. 
    • The Council has been empowered to advise the Central Government, State Governments and State Waqf Boards.  
    • The Council consists of the Chairperson, who is the Union Minister in charge of Waqf and such other members, not exceeding 20 in number, as may be appointed by the Government of India. 
    • As per Section 40 of the Waqf Act 1995 (as amended in 2013) the State Waqf Board is empowered to decide any question which arises as to whether a particular property is a Waqf property or not or whether a Waqf is a Sunni Waqf or a Shia Waqf.  

    Source: TH