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Administration Of Waqf Board In India: Issues And Challenges In Management

Waqf is defined by Indian law (Waqf Legislation) as "any person's permanent dedication of any moveable or immovable property for any purpose recognized by Muslim law as pious, religious, or benevolent." The theoretical meaning of establishing a waqf is that the property can never be passed down by inheritance, sale, or seizure again. According to the "Sachar Committee Report" on the social, economic, and educational situation of the Muslim population of India (2006), there are more than 4.9 million registered waqfs in India. A total of six lac acres is expected to be under these estates.

Waqf in India includes functional and non-functional mosques, dargahs (tombs or shrines of a Muslim saint), khanqahs (buildings or space for Sufi brotherhood), maqbaras (tombs), ashoor-khans (mourning places for Shias), qabristns (graveyards), idghs (space to do Eid Prayer), imam-baras (space, However, it has not entirely weathered the test of its mission due to political apathy, encroachment, weak governance, and societal insensitivity. Auqf is intended to promote welfare and justice in society, ensuring that no one goes hungry or uninformed. This study will look into the issues with waqf administration in India, with an emphasis on state waqf boards.

Introduction
Waqf is defined under Indian law (Waqf Legislation) as "any person's permanent dedication of any moveable or immovable property for any purpose recognized by Muslim law as pious, religious, or benevolent."[1] In Islamic law, a waqf property is permanently devoted to Allah Almighty and must be utilised for lawful purposes as defined by the Waqif. "Holding a Maal (an asset) and limiting its consumption to repeatedly extract its usufruct for the sake of an objective representing righteousness/philanthropy," according to Monzer Kahf.[2] The theoretical meaning of establishing a waqf is that the property can never be passed down by inheritance, sale, or seizure again.

It is eternal, unalienable, and unchangeable. On the subject of ownership, the Ummah has agreed that it belongs to Allah Almighty and cannot be owned by humans. Because Allah Almighty is not a physically tangible entity, the community is considered the true heir of auqf (plural of waqf) and controls its affairs through a Mutawalli (waqf trustee). As a result, waqf becomes a public asset that cannot be given away, sold, mortgaged, inherited, or otherwise dealt with. When the specified purposes are fulfilled, the ultimate goal of every waqf is to help the poor.

Wqif is the person who establishes a waqf, and Mutawalli is the person who is appointed by Wqif to manage or administer the waqf.Waqf in India includes functional and non-functional mosques, darghs (tombs or shrines of a Muslim saint), khanqahs (building or spaces for Sufi brotherhood), maqbaras (tombs), ashoor-khans (mourning places for Shias), qabristns (graveyards), idghs (space to do Eid Prayer), imam-baras (space According to the "Sachar Committee Report" on the social, economic, and educational situation of the Muslim population of India (2006), there are more than 4.9 million registered waqfs in India.

The total area covered by these estates is believed to be six million acres, with a book value of approximately 6,000 crores. Because the book value is about half a century old, the current value will be several times higher, with a market value of 1.2 lakh crores. According to the research, the annual income from these properties is only around 163 crores or 2.7 percent of the book value.

If these properties are put to efficient and marketable use, they can yield a minimum return of 10%, or around Rs 12,000 crores per year, which can be utilized to improve the socio-economic and educational standing of Indian Muslims.[3] However, it has not entirely weathered the test of its mission due to political apathy, encroachment, weak governance, and societal insensitivity. Auqāf is aimed to establish welfare and a just society that does not leave someone to perish hungry and uninformed.

Waqf Administration in India
Waqf properties were traditionally administered by Mutawallis under the supervision of Qadhis (magistrates/judges of the Shari'ah Court). During the rule of Muslim kings in India, the same practice persisted. The British maintained the same administrative organization at first, but the policy was abandoned in 1810.[4] During British rule, many efforts were made to administer auqf by legislation. Some Muslim concerns and requests were handled, but the majority were ignored.

The Waqf Act of 1954 was passed by the Indian government in order to improve the administration of waqf estates in the country. The Waqf Act of 1954 was revised in 1959, 1964, 1969, and 1984, before being repealed in 1995 and replaced by the Waqf Act of 1995. The Waqf Act of 1995 governs waqf administration in India, which was updated by the Waqf Amendment Act of 2013. The Act is broken down into nine chapters and 113 sections.

In India, the auqf is administered by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.[5] The Minister of Minority Affairs serves as ex-officio Chairman of the Central Waqf Council, which was established in 1964 under section 8 (a) of the Waqf Act 1954 (now section 9 (1) of the Waqf Act 1995) to advise the Central Government, State Governments, and State Waqf Boards on auqf administration. Mutawalli is the most basic unit in waqf administration[6].

State Waqf Boards are responsible for ensuring that auqfs are 'fully maintained, controlled, and administered and that their income is dully allocated to the objects and purposes for which they were created or intended.[7]

Waqf Boards
State Waqf Boards are created by various State governments for the overall supervision of all waqfs in a State[8], with a term of office of five years. [9]A separate Waqf Board for Shias may be constituted if the number or revenue of Shia waqf properties in a State exceeds 15%.[10] The Board is a legal entity with perpetual succession and a common seal that has the authority to acquire, keep, and transfer property, as well as sue and be sued.[11] Members of the Board are both elected and nominated.

Each of the electoral colleges consisting of Muslim members of Parliament, State Legislature, Bar Council, and Mutawallis elects one and not more than two members to the State Government. The state government also selects one Muslim with professional expertise in town planning, business management, social work, finance, revenue, agriculture, and development.

One Muslim recognised expert of Shia and Sunni theology, as well as one Muslim state government officer not lower than the level of Joint Secretary. The Board should consist of not less than five and not more than seven members chosen by the Central Government in Union territories other than the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Every Board shall have at least two women members.

The Waqf Act establishes a full-time Chief Executive Officer of the Board, who must be a Muslim by faith and be appointed by the State Government from a panel of two names proposed by the Board, and who must not be below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the State Government; if a Muslim officer of that rank is not available, a Muslim officer of equivalent rank may be appointed on deputation.[12]

Issues and Challenges of State Waqf Boards
There are 32 Waqf boards in India, each of which is responsible for the common supervision of respective auqf in in their respective States/Union Territories[13]. In India, the Waqf Board and corruption are inextricably linked. In India, there has been a long history of systematic daylight robbery. The affluent accept waqf land through Waqf Boards in the name of Allah for the maintenance of orphans, widows, divorced women, and educational and benevolent resolutions.

Politicians, police, bureaucrats, and the land mafia have all had their eyes on waqf land, which cannot be sold or its use changed indefinitely. They are offered on lease rather than cash to fill formal offers. Some land scandals, like the one at the Maharashtra Waqf Board, which gave Mukesh Ambani 4,535 sqmts in the upscale Atta hill Road for his 27-story Apartment, show how the Waqf Board has become a severely corrupt institution.

Similarly, the Windsor Manor Hotel in Bangalore, which is valued at over 600 crores, has been leased for a pittance of Rs.12000 per month. According to the Sachar Committee Report, the Waqf Board needs to be overhauled because the government does not have proper CEOs in most states, and those who do are either manning this office as a side job or are just unqualified. While performing their functions, these Waqf Boards encounter several concerns and challenges. The following are some of the most serious issues.

Survey
The survey is required for any action on waqf properties since it reveals the nature and potential of the property. The survey is so important that the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqf described it as the "heart and soul" of the Act in its ninth report. Section 4-8 of the Act allows the State Government to appoint a Survey Commissioner and other extra or assistant commissioners as needed for the survey of auqf in a State.

The State Government must receive a report from the Survey Commissioner detailing the number of Shia and Sunni waqfs in the state, the nature and purpose of each waqf, gross income, land revenue, cesses, rates, and taxes payable in each waqf. In circumstances where no Survey Commissioner has been appointed, the survey must be completed within one year of the commencement of the Waqf Amendment Act, 2013, and a Survey Commissioner must be appointed within three months of the commencement.

The second or subsequent survey term has been shortened to ten years. The time limit for the second or subsequent survey was formerly set at twenty years. The State Government is responsible for the overall expense of surveying and publishing the list or lists of auqf.

Establishment of Waqf Board
The Waqf Act gives state governments the authority to create Waqf Boards. However, many state governments have failed to form the Board or have not appointed the full complement of members, rendering it ineffective. State governments have likewise showed a lack of interest in hiring full-time CEOs. Because the Chief Executive Officer carries out the Board's directives and is, in practise, the most crucial functionary, his or her absence brings the entire machine to a halt. Waqf Boards have become a source of political patronage for political parties. Both elected and appointed members are affiliated with a political party. Political allegiances have frequently trumped constitutional responsibilities in the performance of their duties.

Encroachment In its ninth report, the Joint Parliamentary Committee concluded that 70 to 80 percent of auqf had been illegally inhabited.[14] The "Sachar Committee" identified two types of encroachment: one is the complete seizure of property with no rentals or other payments, and the other is when the occupying party pays a minimal rent that has not been updated in decades. The fact that the state apparatus, which is meant to be in charge of waqf holdings, is also participating is disappointing.

The legal process for reclaiming these properties was commenced, but the suits were time-barred. A special statute, the Public Waqfs (Extension of Limitation) Act, 1959, was established, extending the statute of limitations for filing actions for all illegally occupied waqf properties dispossessed between 14 August 1947 and 7 May 1954 to 15 August 1967. The deadline was repeatedly extended, and many properties were regained.

Because litigation is costly and depletes endowed property, Muslims have pushed for the expansion of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupation) Act, 1958 to waqf assets, although this has yet to happen. The Waqf Properties (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupation) Bill, 2014 is currently pending in parliament. If passed, the measure is expected to significantly aid in the removal of the encroachment.

Litigation
The first question is whether the waqfs listed are Shia or Sunni waqfs. In this case, a lawsuit could be filed with the WaqfTribunal, whose decision will be final. Nonetheless, a High Court sue motto or on the application can observe the matter for legality or appropriateness and may confirm, reverse, or amend the Tribunal's order as it sees fit (Section 83 of the Wakf Act, 1995). The State WaqfBoards lack the financial resources to hire effective legal counsel to oppose the cases.

This has become the most significant impediment to the growth of waqf properties. State governments may provide compulsory help to WaqfBoards to develop a solid legal cell, similar to what is available to other government departments. Syed Khalid Rashid promotes ADR, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, which encourages out-of-court settlements; nevertheless, he warns against using this method in critical cases involving waqf property holding (Section 83 in The Wakf Act, 1995).[15]

Financial Problems
Waqf Boards' financial status is precarious. WaqfBoards accept charitable donations from mutawallis whose net yearly revenue is not less than five thousand rupees each year under section 72. Since the majority of the auqfare does not generate any revenue, its contribution is small. Several WaqfBoards find it extremely difficult to simply pay their employees' salaries. They are unable to defend themselves in court, and the development of waqf assets is out of their reach.

Some state governments have reportedly begun to provide funding to the board. The most important thing is that all states should extend the grant to individual boards, and it should be a substantial one, not just a courtesy (Rasool, 2017).[16]

Conclusion
The study aimed to clarify the nature of waqf administration in India, as well as the difficulties Waqf Boards have in carrying out their responsibilities. Before going into detail about the topic, an attempt was made to define the term waqf and its potential. A brief history of waqf legislation and administration in India was also presented. The establishment of boards, surveys, encroachment, litigation, financial concerns, development, and record-keeping were all discussed. It emphasized the difficulties in forming boards, a shortage of employees, and the Waqf Boards' poor financial situation.

The difficulties encountered during the survey and the clearance of encroachment were also mentioned. It was discovered that no policy can be formed without a thorough study because knowledge of the exact quantity and kind of waqf properties is unclear and hazy. The preservation and development of waqf properties have become a faraway dream since a large number of them are under encroachment, and the process to remove them has become a time-consuming legal chore. Furthermore, it was noticed that the litigation procedure is slow and costly, resulting in the drain of waqf income.

The current unsatisfactory state of waqf is mostly due to state governments' frigid approach, as they have remained passive spectators while being aware of waqf property misuse. The Waqf Management System of India (WAMSI) has determined that progress in digitalization and computerization of Waqf properties has been modest. One factor is that revenue records are difficult to come by. [17]Therefore, State Government should direct the district administration to give the relevant information free of cost to the respective Waqf Boards.

Recommendations
It can be inferred that the WAQF Act's or other regulatory measures' existing provisions do not effectively address the need for a uniform financial disclosure procedure. It is desired that the government would establish appropriate legislation to ensure that every WAQF institution ensures openness by exposing financial transactions.

Given the high value of real estate in India, the government should implement the Accounting and Auditing Organizations for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the International Financial Services Board (IFSB) accounting standards to improve the transparency and accountability of WAQF institutions.

In countries including Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Qatar Financial Centre, Sudan, and Syria, AAOIFI accounting standards have become mandatory regulatory requirements. The Islamic Development Bank Group, a global institution, has likewise implemented AAOIFI accounting standards. In addition, in countries like Indonesia and Pakistan, AAOIFI accounting standards have served as the foundation for national accounting standards.

AAOIF operates in various countries such as Brunei, Dubai International Financial Centre, Egypt, France, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, as well as Africa and Central Asia.

End-Notes:
  1. Section 3(r) of waqf Act reads "waqf" means the permanent dedication by any person, of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognized by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable and includesó (i) a waqf by user but such waqf shall not cease to be a waqf by reason only of the user having ceased irrespective of the period of such cesser; (ii) a Shamlat Patti, Shamlat Deh, Jumla Malkaan or by any other name entered in a revenue record; (iii) "grants," including mashrat-ul-khidmat for any purpose recognized by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable; and (iv) a waqf-alal-aulad to the extent to which the property is dedicated for any purpose recognized by Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable, provided when the line of succession fails, the income of the waqf shall be spent for education, development, welfare and such other purposes as recognized by Muslim law.
  2. Monzer Kahf, "Financing the Development of Awqaf Property," The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 16 (Winter 1999): 4, 41.
  3. Government of India, Social, Economic and Educational status of Muslim Community of India, Report (New Delhi: Cabinet Secretariat, 2006), 219.
  4. The Regulation 111 of 1810 of Bengal Code and Regulation V11 of 1817 of Madras Code, Board of Revenue or Board of Commissioners of these two provinces were given the general superintendence of all endowments including Auqāf. With the enactment of the Religious Endowments Act, 1863 the practice was abandoned and local committees functioned as new custodians of Auqāf. In 1864 the Kazees Act abolished the institution of Qadhi and left waqf to be addressed by English Judges who applied English legal principles instead of Shari'ah.
  5. Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Minority Affairs on 29th January 2006, waqf was allotted to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  6. Historically Mutawalli used to be the main and primary institution governing auqāf. After partition most of the Mutawallis in northern Indian migrated to Pakistan leaving auqāf in a miserable condition. For instance, in the absence of Mutawallis in Haryana all the waqf properties are directly managed by Waqf Board.
  7. Section 32 (1)
  8. Section 13
  9. Section 15
  10. Section 13 (2)-2(A)
  11. Section 13 (3)
  12. Section 23 (1)
  13. Waqf Management System Of India, https://wamsi.nic.in/wamsi/progress/WAMSI_MPR_APR2022.pdf, 8th May 2022.
  14. For details see Rajya Sabha, Ninth Report of Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqf. New Delhi: Parliamentary Report (New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 2008), 33-37.
  15. Under Section 83 (1) of the Waqf Act 1995, "The State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute as many Tribunals as it may think fit, for the determination of any dispute, question or other matter relating to a waqf or waqf pr. THE WAQF ACT, 1995.
  16. Waqf Administration in India: Issues and Challenges of State Waqf Boards. Journal of Islamic thought and civilisation, 8.
  17. From the recommendations of National Conference on 'Protection and Management of Waqfs' organized by Haryana Waqf Board from February 5-7, 2013 at Ambala. Recommendation No 22.

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