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WAQF Act, 1995: Controversy and Claims of Hindu Property Encroachment

WAQF Act was initially passed in 1954 but was later replaced by a new version in 1995, granting more powers to Waqf Boards.

  • In 2013, further amendments to the Act gave Waqf Boards extensive powers to acquire properties without legal challenge.
  • In 2014, the Congress party transferred 123 prime properties in Delhi to the Delhi Waqf Board using this law, resulting in the loss of land for Hindus.
  • The Waqf Board now has the authority to claim properties in the name of Muslim charity.
  • The Act originally stemmed from property disputes between Hindus who migrated from Pakistan and Muslims who left India during partition.
  • Currently, there are over 8,54,509 properties under Waqf Boards, covering more than eight lakh acres of land.
  • The Waqf Board has significantly expanded its property holdings over the years, even though the overall land in the country remains the same.
  • The Board often considers land surrounding cemeteries and illegal shrines as its property, leading to encroachments.
  • Section 3 of the Waqf Act, 1995 allows the Board to claim land based solely on its “thinking” without requiring any proof.
  • If the Board claims a property, the owner cannot go to court but must approach the Waqf Tribunal Court.
  • Section 85 of the Act makes the Tribunal’s decision final, unchallengeable even by the Supreme Court.
  • Section 40 of the Act shifts the burden of proof to the landowner, making it extremely difficult to contest the Board’s claims.
  • The Waqf Act is unique in India, as there are no similar laws for Hindus, Christians, or Sikhs.
  • Establishment of Waqf Boards: Each state in India is required to establish a Waqf Board responsible for the management and supervision of waqf properties.
  • Survey of Waqf Properties: The Act mandates regular surveys of waqf properties to identify and document them accurately.
  • Registration of Waqf Properties: All waqf properties must be registered with the respective Waqf Boards.
  • Protection of Waqf Properties: The Act includes measures to protect waqf properties from encroachment and mismanagement.
  • Judicial Proceedings: The Act allows for judicial proceedings to resolve disputes related to waqf properties.

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