The central government has agreed to incorporate further amendments in the Waqf Bill, before seeking its passage in the Rajya Sabha in the forthcoming winter session beginning next week.
After day-long consultation with chairmen and chief executive officers of 29 state waqf boards, except Gujarat, Union minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan said the agreed amendments include granting directive powers to Central Wakf council to empower it to enforce decisions, raising the profile of CEOs, criminalising encroachment and setting up of an independent Waqf Financial Development Corporation to develop and generate resources out of the huge properties.
Out of more than four lakh acre identified waqf properties across the country, nearly 50% of them are under illegal
The amendments also include setting up a judicial tribunal headed by a retired supreme court judge of former chief justice of high court to accentuate disposal of disputes. The minister said there is a possibility of employing officials for the Waqf through a common recruitment board, accepting the justice Rajinder Sachar committee recommendations partially, which had called for setting up a waqf cadre.
Khan further said that though his ministry wanted to extend Public Premises Act 1971 to waqf properties as well to initiate penal provisions against encroachers, the law ministry has raised a red flag, recommending that the issue be left to the states to decide.
The minister said Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tripura have extended the powers enshrined in the Act to wafq laws through legislative amendments. He further said his ministry was discussing the options of reclaiming various mosques from the archaeological survey of India (ASI).