The Maharashtra government has directed its Revenue Department to remove names of individuals as owners of Wakf properties and instead name the Board or organisations as the owner.
The state government issued a GR (government resolution) yesterday, in which it ordered the revenue officials to carry out a survey across the state in order to remove the names of individual owners from Wakf lands.
The decision is aimed on curbing possible misuse of Wakf land, whereby part of the land is sold to private entities in violation of the Wakf Board notification, 1995.
In the GR, the government has directed the Settlement Commissioner and Director of Land Records to undertake the survey, granting it permission to hire retired officers for some posts for the purpose.
As per the data available with the Maharashtra State Wakf Board, there are 23,566 listed Wakf properties in the state, ad-measuring 37,330.97 hectares.
All the additional collectors will be part of this survey and will be called as additional survey commissioner along with the tehsildars called as assistant survey commissioner.
Pune and Parbhani districts have been selected for pilot project, for which Rs 1.08 crore have been sanctioned. Six months period has been given for the completion of the pilot project.
The officers have been asked to complete the project by personally visiting sites and documenting their current status.
The state government's move comes in the wake of findings of the A T A K Sheikh committee, appointed in October 2007, which observed that many Wakf properties were illegally sold or given on lease.
Out of these, a maximum of 15,877 Wakf properties ad-measuring 23,121.10 hectares are in Aurangabad division.
According to the Board, 60 per cent of the Wakf land in Marathwada region (Aurangabad division) was found to be encroached upon.
So far, the Chief Executive Officer of the Board has
passed orders in 1,088 cases of encroachment, of which only 21 orders have been executed till June 30, 2007.
There are 250 cases under hearing and over 483 orders have been sent to the sub-divisional magistrates for execution.
As per the data available with the Wakf Board, in Mumbai and Thane district there are 1,571 Wakf properties listed with the Charity Commissioner and 351 Wakf properties listed with the Survey Commissioner's office.
In the rest of the state, Wakf properties and the area in question are as follows: Pune has 2,728 properties and area of 3,724.55 hectares; Nagpur has 470 properties and area of 3,704.25 hectares; in Konkan region there are 1,724 properties covering an area of 2,339 hectares; Nashik has 1,455 properties with area of 3,340 hectares. In Amravati division, there are 1,310 properties with an area of 1,102 hectares.
As per the Central Wakf Act of 1955, all properties declared as Wakf include masjids, dargah, kabrastan, anathalay (orphanage) and others.
The Act provides for appointment of 'Mutawalli' (Wakf trustee) or a management committee to oversee the property.
Despite it, many properties had the names of individuals added on 7/12 extract of land title and it was found to be misused by the people having their names.
Shamshuddin Tamboli, president of Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal said, "It is a welcome move, because wakf land has been misused by several private parties. It has been diverted to builders, schools and even commercial properties as well. The state should also focus on protecting the wakf land and ensure that its usage will be restricted to community only.