Waqf Act of 1995: A Detailed Analysis

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The Waqf Act of 1995 was a landmark piece of legislation in India aimed at providing a more comprehensive and structured framework for the administration of waqf properties across the nation. These properties, as mentioned earlier, are endowments made by Muslim philanthropists for religious, charitable, and community purposes.

Here is a detailed analysis of the key provisions and features of the Waqf Act of 1995:

1. Establishment of Waqf Boards:

  • Central Waqf Council: The Act paved the way for the establishment of the Central Waqf Council, a body entrusted with the responsibility of advising the Indian government on matters related to waqf and its administration.
  • State Waqf Boards: Every state in India, with a significant Muslim population, is to have its own Waqf Board. These boards function autonomously within their respective jurisdictions and oversee the administration, management, and protection of waqf properties.

2. Survey of Waqf Properties:

The Act mandates periodic surveys of waqf properties to be conducted. This helps in identifying and cataloging these assets and aids in their effective management.

3. Registration of Waqf:

The 1995 Act made it compulsory for all waqfs to be registered with the respective state Waqf Boards. This ensures transparency and standardized documentation of waqf properties.

4. Protection of Waqf Properties:

  • The Act has provisions that safeguard waqf properties from unauthorized encroachments and sales. It also provides a mechanism for the eviction of unauthorized occupants from waqf properties.
  • Provisions are in place to ensure that transactions related to waqf properties (like leasing) are done following proper guidelines, safeguarding the properties’ intended religious or charitable purpose.

5. Financial Aspects:

  • Waqf boards are empowered to collect revenue from waqf properties, which can be used for the property’s maintenance, as well as other charitable purposes outlined by the waqf.
  • The Central Waqf Council is financed by grants from the government, contributions from state waqf boards, and other approved sources.

6. Audit and Scrutiny:

To ensure transparency and accountability, the Act mandates regular audits of the accounts of waqf boards. These audits provide insights into the financial health of the board and help in efficient budgeting.

7. Judicial Functions:

The Waqf Boards are vested with certain judicial powers. They can hear disputes related to waqf properties and have the same powers as a Civil Court in matters of summoning, examining evidence, etc.

8. Superintendence and Direction:

The Act stipulates that the state government can issue directions to the state waqf boards and call for reports and returns as required. This ensures oversight and coordination between state governance mechanisms and waqf boards.

Conclusion:

The Waqf Act of 1995 was a seminal step in consolidating the management and administration of waqf properties in India. While it established a robust framework, challenges like mismanagement and encroachment still persist, prompting discussions on further reforms. Nonetheless, the Act remains central in safeguarding the interests of waqf properties, ensuring they continue to serve their religious and charitable purposes.