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Congress MP too declines to buy Salman Khurshid’s ‘Waqf Reforms’

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 07:02:20 PM, Staff Reporter

Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi is the lone Congress MP from Bihar

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Malegaon: Already rattled by the strong opposition from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) over the Waqf Amendment Bill 2010 passed in the lower house, Minister of Awqaf Salman Khurshid is now facing an equally strong opposition from his own party MP. Speaking to, the lone Congress Parliamentarian from Bihar and renowned academician, Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi expressed disappointments over the amendments made in the Waqf Act by the present ministry.


“Looking at the large scale misuse of the Waqf lands and rampant irregularities in the Waqf management, the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Waqf was a silver lining on the dark clouds. But it is disappointing that the bill meant for strengthening and protecting the Muslim Awqaf ignored the important recommendations made by the JPC established for the very purpose”, Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi says while speaking to on phone.


Maulana Qasmi, who represents Kishanganj – the only seat that the ruling Congress party could win from Bihar in the May 2009 parliamentary elections – was present in the house when Salman Khurshid pushed the bill in the Lok Sabha on May 07, 2010.


Expressing his displeasure over the bill while participating in the debate before it was passed in the lower house, he even compared the bill in its present form with the lion without teeth.


The recommendations that the Maulana wanted to be included in the Wakf Amendment Bill 2010 are, formation of special tribunals for the cases related to the waqf disputes, appointments of IAS officers who are specially trained in Waqf handling as CEOs at the respective state boards, and value assessment of the waqf lands - under legal or illegal occupation - based on the market value and collection of rent from the users on the same basis.


“Actual cost of the waqf lands is far more than what is estimated. The amount collected in the name of the rent is still lesser. Hence it is time the government assess the entire waqf lands on the basis of their market values, and also decide a fare rent based on the present norms so that the funds for the development of the minorities are generated”, he said.


Amendments to the Waqf Act are not new. After the Act was introduced first time in 1954, changes in it were made in 1969, 1984 and finally in 1995.


Incidentally, Maulana Qasmi’s recommendations too are based on the letter that the former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi had written in 1976 to then governments in various states. In her letter, she had directed the state governments to revaluate all the waqf properties under the government use and make arrangements to pay their rent as per the market rate.


However, nothing could be done so far in this regard and when the present government expressed its desire to amend the Waqf Act once again, it was expected that at least Mrs Indira Gandhi's directives would be included in the amendments.


Meanwhile, in an attempt to bring consensus on the bill before it is moved in the Upper House, the government has invited the legal team of the All India Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to discuss the basis of their opposition.



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