Afroz Alam Sahil for BeyondHeadlines
Waqf is an endowment, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes for the larger benefit of the community. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust.
The Central Waqf Council has control only on its office premises and on no other waqf properties. This revelation comes in response to an application filled by the author under Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Central Waqf Council, constituted under Waqf Act (1995), says, “Central Waqf Council does not have control on any property except its office premise.” It further adds, “It has no land to give either on lease or rent.”
The ‘toothless’ body does not even have proper and organized records of all waqf properties, which is estimated to be around 4 lakh acres.
On specific questions asked through the RTI on the details of mosques, dargahs, and burial grounds under it, the Council frankly replied: “No information is available.”
The Waqf Council was constituted primarily for the purpose of advising the government on matters pertaining to working of the State Wakf Boards and proper administration of the Wakfs in the country.
For the year 2008-2009, a total budget of the Waqf Council was Rs 30.61, while the income for the same period was Rs 4.46 crore.”Investigations showed that while real estate price is soaring in the capital, waqf properties are still available at throw away prices.
Information accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) further reveals that at least 86 shops, office space, etc. in Delhi have rent as low as Re 1 to Rs 11. Two adjacent spaces in Nizamuddin are in fact hired by the World Education & Development Organization for Re 1 each.
These waqf properties are lying in Nizamuddin, Pahar Ganj, Karol Bagh, Subzi Mandi, Balli Maran, Matia Mahal and other streets in Old Delhi.
Even this meager rent is often not paid on time. Information available through the RTI till July 2009 reveal that some tenants have not paid their “arrears” for years – at times for as long as 40 years.
Information provided by the Delhi Waqf Board reveal the highest arrear of Rs 16,521 on Abdul Quddosss Siddiqui, President, Nusratul Islam Education Society in Old Delhi’s Fateh Puri area. However, this could not be verified as at Re 1 rent, such arrear seems impossible or perhaps they never paid the rent!
For the past few years, there has been talk of overhauling the waqf board. In fact ‘The Waqf (Amendment) Bill, 2010’, was passed in April 2010 to improve the management and administration of the Waqfs in India. However, there has been a little change on the ground so far.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker K Rehman Kahn too had raised the issue of mismanagement of waqf properties in March this year. He said that there were at least 4 lakh acres of waqf land across country, major portion of which was encroached upon by different bodies, including the government.
Most of these places are in the old Delhi area, but also in Pahar Ganj, Sabzi Mandi, on Bahadur Shah Road, etc. BH also found out that most of these tenants have not paid rent for years, as they have large sum due. For example, Om Prakash of Balakhana No. 2892 on Mori Gate has Rs 5059 due as on July 2009. At Rs 12 per month, it implies that he has not paid rent for more than 35 years. And, he is not the only one. Narendra Singh of Plot No. 3197, in Pahar Ganj similarly has Rs 4908 at same rate.