LUCKNOW: Amid buzz that the Uttar Pradesh government was mulling merger of the Shia and Sunni Central Waqf Boards too on the lines of 28 other states, the Sunnis came out in support of the move, while the Shias rejected it in toto claiming that no such proposal could take shape or be implemented until the Shia Waqf Board's tenure ends in 2020.
However, refuting the reports, minister of state for Waqf and Haj, Mohsin Raza, reiterated that the government had received suggestions in this regard and they have been forwarded to the law department for advice and feasibility study.
Raza said the UP government had no role in the issue and he had only sought legal advice on the suggestions to merge the two Waqf (endowment) boards. "In the last one month, I received a couple of such suggestions questioning the relevance of two Waqf boards in UP when 28 other states have only one. I forwarded these suggestions to the law department. If they say it can be done, the same would be proposed to the government. If legal advice is against it, the suggestions will be shelved altogether," Raza said.
The minister quoted the Waqf Act 1995, to clear the intent of the proposed move. He said Shias or Sunnis should have at least 15 per cent share in total Waqf units for constitution of separate boards, which he said was not the case in UP where the Shias account for only 5,000 units of the total 24,000 Waqf units.
"There should be at least 15 per cent of share of Shia or Sunni among total Waqf units. In UP, there are 24,000 Waqf units, of which Shia Waqf has only about 5,000 units, which is just 4-5 per cent. Legally it should not be like this," he said.
He added that according to the figures of Central Waqf Council, the Waqf properties owned by Shia Central Waqf Board stood at just 3,000 units which was much below the required percentage of ownership. "So what is the point in having separate boards," he said. "Moreover, separate chairman, CEO and other staff incur heavy expenses," the minister said. Raza was also of the view that by having a single board, management would become easier as both of the boards were allegedly plagued with corruption.
Shia Waqf board chairman Waseem Rizvi rejected the proposal saying that as the two boards were set up in 2015 for five years, they could not be dissolved midway. "There is no provision to dissolve the boards. After the tenure ends, the government can certainly inquire about the number of Waqf units and their income to proceed further," Rizvi said. On the contrary, he claimed that the Shia Waqf Board's income share was over 15 per cent of the total Waqf income.
On the other hand, chairman of UP Sunni Waqf Board, Zufar Farooqui, welcomed the initiative of merging the boards into one. "It is imperative that the proposal is implemented in UP also as 28 other states in the country have a single Waqf board," said Farooqui.