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More changes sought as Lok Sabha debates Waqf Amendment Bill
Friday August 23, 2013 12:08 PM, Staff Reporter

As Lok Sabha prepares to debate the Waqf Amendment Bill 2011 which was passed by the Rajya Sabha August 19, community leaders and experts propose important changes so as to make it more effective to curb misuse, and utilize the Waqf properties in a better way for the welfare of the community.

Besides other things, the important changes proposed in the the Waqf Amendment Bill 2011 due for a debate in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing monsoon session, are related to the leasing process of the Waqf properties and the status of the Secretary of the Central Waqf Council.

Demanding the deletion of the words "a lease or sub-lease for any period exceeding one year and" from the proposed provision in the Amendment Bill, Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, who is the President, of Zakat Foundation of India and former OSD Sachar Committee, said, "Though not recommended either by JPC or Sachar Committee, the Bill provides for every proposed lease for a period exceeding one year or more to be forwarded by State Waqf Board to the State Government."

"In this way the entire leasing process has been placed at the mercy of the State Government curtailing the original powers of the State Waqf Board. This is in gross violation of standard practices prevalent in the country in respect of religious establishments pertaining to different faiths. This proposed provision needs to be deleted from the Bill", he said in a written statement sent to

Dr Mahmood also demanded addition of one more point with the words "No lease or sub-lease shall be granted other than on market rate of rent as prevalent at the time of granting the lease" after clause (c).

"Both Sachar Committee and JPC have recommended that the Waqf properties should be leased out on the prevailing market rate of rent. This has to be included by way of statutory provision in the Waqf Bill. However, this has not been done. This omission will lead to loss of thousands of cores of rupees of Waqf revenue, every year", he said.

Dr Mahmood acknowledged that acting on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, the Bill provides that the official status of the CEO of the State Wakf Board shall be at least of the level of Dy. Secretary to the State Government. On the other hand, regulatory powers have been given in the Bill to the Central Waqf Council by which it can monitor the activities of the State Waqf Boards, but demanded more clarification on the status of the person who will be appointed as the secretary of the Central Waqf Council.

"The official status of the Secretary, Central Waqf Council remains undefined. This creates strong possibility that the Secretary, CWC may be an officer below the rank of the CEO of the State Waqf Board. This will create avoidable incompatibility", he said.

"In order to pre-empt this anomaly, Sachar Committee recommended that the Secretary of Central Waqf Council should be of the status of at least Joint Secretary to the Government of India. However, the Bill is silent in this regard", he added.

"The Bill needs to be amended to provide that the Secretary, CWC shall be of the minimum level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India. That will enable him to effectively monitor the CEOs of the State Waqf Boards", he said.

Widespread allegations are made that the Waqf properties worth crores of rupees and spread all across India are being misused, sold on through-away prices and encroached over. To curb these irregularities, the UPA government in 2011 had suggested various amendments in the existing Waqf Bill. The amendment bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 19 during the ongoing monsoon session. The bill is expected to come for a debate in the Lok Sabha before it gives it a final nod.

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