UP govt mulling merging of Shia, Sunni Waqf boards

The Uttar Pradesh government is mulling a “UP Muslim Waqf board” by merging the Sunni and Shia Waqf boards to prevent “wastage of money”, Minister of State for Waqf Mohsin Raza has said.

He alleged that with corruption charges being levelled at both the boards, the government was considering dissolve them soon.

Though a final decision is still to be taken, the minister said the UP Muslif Waqf board, when constituted, would include members of both Sunni and Shia communities and its chairman would be selected from among them.

“The government has got a number of letters and suggestions from various quarters regarding the merger of the Sunni and Shia Waqf boards. After the Law department’s review of the proposal, the government will consider it and form the UP Muslim Waqf board,” Raza told news agency PTI.

He also said all states except UP and Bihar had only one Waqf board.

According to Raza, it was not “legal” to have separate Waqf boards in the state.

Quoting the Waqf Act 1995, he said Shias or Sunnis should have at least a 15 per cent share in the total Waqf units for the constitution of separate boards, which he said was not the case in UP where Shias accounted for only 5,000 units of the total 1,24,000 Waqf units.

“There should be at least a 15 per cent of share of Shia or Sunni among total Waqf units. In UP there are 1,24,000 waqf units, of which Shia waqf has only about 5,000 units, which is only 4-5 per cent. Legally it should not be like this,” he said.

The minister further said as per the Central Waqf council, there were only 3,000 units of Shia Waqf Board. There was no point in having a separate Shia board, he said.

“Separate chairman, CEO and other staff incure heavy expenses. It is a wastage of money,” Mohsin Raza said.

Reacting to the development, Shia Waqf board Chairman Waseem Rizvi said there was no provision to separate Sunni and Shia boards which were constituted in 2015 for the the tenure of five years.

“There is no provision to dissolve the board. After the tenure ends, the government can inquire about the number of Waqf units and their income to proceed further,” Rizvi said.

Rizvi also alleged that the share of income of Shia Waqf board was over 15 per cent of the total income.

However, Chairman of UP Sunni Waqf Board Zufar Farooqui said they welcome the initiative of merging both the boards into one.

He, however, wondered why the state government was changing a decision taken under the BJP rule in 1999 by then Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.

“In 1999, when the BJP was in power and Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister he constituted separate Shia and Sunni Waqf boards. Question arises whether the present government does not endorse the previous BJP government’s decision,” Farooqui asked.

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