President’s assent to the Waqf (Amendment) Bill, 2013

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Waqf (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

What are the key stipulates of the Waqf (Amendment) Bill 2013?

The Waqf (Amendment) Bill 2013 brings some amendments in the Waqf Act, 1995 which was introduced to provide for the better administration of Waqfs and for matters connected therwith or incidental thereto.
As per the amendments:

  • The powers of the Waqf Council, currently an advisory body at the central level, have been strengthened. It can issue directions to waqf boards, who administer waqfs in each state.
  • The composition of Waqf boards has been changed.  It also establishes the procedure for removal of a chairperson of a waqf board.
  • States, which do not have a Waqf Board, are directed to establish it within one year.
  • State-funded surveys of Waqf properties must be carried out.
  • Kinds of powers that can be delegated by a waqf board to the chairperson or any other individual, including the Chief Executive Officer of the Board have been restricted.
  • The sale, gift, or total transfer of a waqf property will be treated as invalid.
  • Maximum period of lease or mortgage of waqf properties has been extended, while establishing a more restrictive procedure by which leases or mortgages are approved by waqf boards.
  • It provides for imprisonment for those who occupy waqf property without authorisation.
  • The circumstances under which state governments can issue directions to waqf boards have been restricted.  Boards cannot be superseded unless there is prima facie evidence of financial irregularity. 
What is a Waqf property?

A Waqf is an unconditional and permanent dedication of property with implied detention in the ownership of God in such a manner, that the property of the owner may be extinguished and its profits may revert to or be applied for the benefit of mankind except for purposes prohibited by Islam. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as Waqif.

What is Central Waqf Council?

Central Wakf Council, India is an Indian statutory body established in 1964 by the Government of India under Waqf Act, 1954 (now a sub section the Waqf Act, 1995) for the purpose of advising it on matters pertaining to working of the State Waqf Boards and proper administration of the Waqfs in the country.

Note: Although waqf is an Islamic institution, being a Muslim is not required to establish a waqf, and dhimmis (non-muslims) may establish a waqf.

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