Deep confusion has cropped up on Telangana State Waqf Board (TSWB) as former Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLC Mohammed Saleem continues to occupy the seat of chairman of the Muslim endowments body. While activists and a section of the staff and board members opine that Saleem’s term as chairman is co-terminus with his membership of the State legislature, the latter maintains that he can continue to discharge his duties as head of the board.
The issue arose soon after Mr Saleem addressed the media on the Masjid-e-Ek Khana demolition from the office of the chairman. “I don’t know in what capacity is he speaking. The functioning of the board is on the brink of collapse. And a clear decision cannot be taken in connection with Mr Saleem sitting in the office of Chairman as no full board meeting has been called for. The government is also silent in this regard,” a senior board official said.
Members are likely to write to the government to seek a clarification on Saleem’s role in the board, said a senior board member. Mohammed Ilyas Shamsi, an activist, said with Saleem’s term as an MLC coming to an end, the “right thing” would be to step down. “The government does not seem interested in the TSWB. Otherwise, it would have taken some measures for improving its functioning and giving it more powers by constituting a commissionerate. Mr Saleem still sitting in the chairman’s seat is a serious issue and must be looked into,” he said.
Citing a 2016 order of the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench), a High Court lawyer dealing with waqf cases said, “The order states that if the term of an MLC, who is a member of the State Waqf Board, ends, then he ceases to be a member of the board with effect from the date on which he ceased to be the MLC.”
Saleem, however, disagreed. “I can continue to serve as chairman of the board. Firstly, the Waqf Act is silent on the term of MLCs as it speaks only of MLAs. Secondly, I was elected unopposed as chairman and a government order on this is available. This allows me to complete my five-year term. There are court orders allowing this. Those saying otherwise do not know what they are talking about,” he told
Meanwhile, Mohammed Saleem, Chairman, Telangana State Wakf Board called on Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mr. Muqtar Abbas Naqvi in New Delhi and presented a report of the functioning of Telangana Wakf Board. He also highlighted the steps taken by the State Govt. for the protection of wakf properties.
Abbas Naqvi expressed his satisfaction over the functioning of Telangana State Wakf Board and said that the Central Govt. would provide 95% subsidy to State Wakf Boards for the development of any wakf property. The State Wakf Board has to provide only 5% grant.
The objective of this scheme is to protect wakf properties and also enhance the income of Wakf Boards.
Naqvi further told that earlier, Central Govt. used to give loans under revolving fund scheme which was repayable. Now, the Central Govt. will give 95% subsidy which is non-refundable.
He advised Saleem to identify wakf properties for development so that he could lay the foundation stone along with the CM of Telangana State.
Saleem informed the minister that TS Govt. has sanctioned grants for the development of 12 wakf properties. Wakf Board has already started preparation of project reports initially for three properties. He assured the minister that on his return to Hyderabad, he would identify the properties to be developed.
Naqvi told that there are valuable wakf properties in the country and the Central Govt. wants to develop them so as to help the Muslims.
Saleem highlighted the difficulties of shortage of staff in TS Wakf Board. He requested the minister to delegate executive powers to Wakf Board and also to enhance the lease period. He assured that all these issues will be taken up in the wakf conference which is scheduled to be held on 7th May in New Delhi.
It may be mentioned that Mr. Mohammed Saleem, Chairman and Mr. B. Shafiullah, CEO of State Wakf Board are attending the conference.
On the other hand, the Telangana State Wakf Board is likely to be involved in a legal complication in the near future, which could result in a change in the two top posts of chairman and chief executive officer.
Mohammed Saleem will lose his post as the chairman of the board when his tenure as a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) ends. The nature of his office as a member of the board is coterminous with him ceasing to be a MLC.
Saleem’s term will be ending next month, and his name has not surfaced in the list of MLC candidates announced by Chief Minister and president of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Thus he will have to relinquish the post of chairman. Sources in the TRS said the party may field MLC Mohammed Fareeduddin for the electoral college of the State Legislative Assembly in place of Mr Saleem.
The three present members of the board are Waheed Ahmed, Mirza Anwar Baig and Malik Motasim Khan. They are also in the race for the next chairman.
According to a Waqf Act, a Muslim member who ceases to be a Member of the State Legislative Council shall be deemed to have vacated the office of member of the Board from the date from which such member ceased to be Member of the Legislative Council.
Likewise, the state government may have to replace Shahnawaz Qasim as in-charge CEO to the Wakf Board as Mr Qasim’s (who is also director, Minorities Welfare) appointment has been challenged in the High Court, and the government had assured the high court that it will appoint a regular CEO in compliance with section 23 of the Wakf Act and rule 14 of the Telangana State Waqf Board Rules.
Osman bin Mohammed Alhajiri, president of the Deccan Wakf Protection Society, says the TRS government has constituted the board in gross violation of the Wakf Act.
At least three members were inducted onto the Board though they were not eligible for their respective categories. Also, while electing the members under Mutawalli categories, the government did not adhere to the conditions laid down in the Act, he said.
He suggested that the government dissolve the board and constitute it again in compliance with the Wakf Act.
One Mohammed Nizamuddin has filed a writ petition challenging the appointment of Mr Qasim and seeking the process for a regular appointment for the post of the CEO of the Wakf Board and the government has assured the court it will appoint a regular CEO.
Syed Ali Jaffry, general secretary of the City BJP Minority Morcha, and in-charge State Wakf Affairs, has raised questions about the functioning of the Minority Welfare Department in relation to the Telangana State Wakf Board. He said at this crucial time when an honest IPS officer who was leading the investigation into case of the prime Wakf properties attached, in which some high level politician are involved, his removal from the position of CEO, Wakf Board is inevitable to avoid legal consequences.
Mr Jaffry said the reason behind the issuance of defective proceeding of appointment of the CEO by the MWD in 2017 is unclear and raises many questions such as whether such proceedings are issued with an intent to make sure honest officers can be easily removed from their positions when someone wants to.
The TRS government has not shown any interest in the protection and preservation of Wakf properties as it claimed it would do before the formation of Telangana, he argued. #KhabarLive.