The caretaker body of Muslim properties in the city — Delhi Waqf Board — is not taking good care of itself. During a time when political power in Muslim constituencies has consolidated in the hands of the AAP, new fractures have appeared in the Board, to the extent that no one knows whose word counts and whose actions are valid.
Former chairman and Congress legislator Mateen Ahmad resigned before filing his nomination for a fresh election in Delhi. Two months later, some of the Board members chose Rana Parween Siddiqui, the Bar Association member, to the Board, as chairperson. The meeting was not attended by chief executive officer S M Ali. Elected member (Member of Parliament) Parvez Hashmi and government member Azimul Haque also stayed away.
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The chair of the Wakf Board remained vacant for two months after Ahmad resigned from the position as the Delhi Assembly was dissolved and he ceased to be a member of the House. Ahmad has claimed that he has not been involved with the Board since November 5.
On January 20, four members of the Board met at the Wakf office and at least three signed a resolution to elect Siddiqui as the chairperson. She has since taken several decisions in the absence of CEO Ali.
Ali told The Indian Express that he has not attended any recent meetings of the Board and also that it is unclear what the size of the quorum may be since a member has resigned. Another member of the Board, Raza Mehdi, noted that quorum of the Board was not complete, so “decisions cannot be taken in the interim”.
On April 29, the Delhi High Court stayed the proposed election to the Board. The advocate representing Rana Parveen Siddiqui in the High Court, A S Chandhok, said, “In her plea, Rana Siddhiqui has expressed the apprehension that while nominating an MLA member to the Wakf, the government might also notify him as chairperson since the previous MLA was the chairperson. She is the elected chairperson and cannot be removed unless a no-confidence motion is moved.”
The court ordered that status quo be maintained with regard to Siddiqui’s election but its “interim order will not affect” the election of Balimaran MLA Imran (of AAP) who has replaced Ahmad on the Board.
Meanwhile, a crisis of legitimacy dogs decisions taken by the Waqf under the new chairperson, many of which may have far-reaching political and financial implications.
In one case, the rent of a nursery at Mehrauli, functioning on Wakf land, has been reduced to one-third when the tenant claimed he was doing no business because of “non-availability of electricity and water facilities” on the property.
The Waqf Board gets seven per cent of the total income of the Waqf properties.
In another matter that has important political significance, concerning the constitution of the managing committee for the Jama Masjid, the Board has approved the names provided by Jama Masjid with Syed Ahmad Bukhari as its president.
“Her election is not valid as it was not conducted by a competent authority and only three members out of a strength of seven, including herself, have signed the resolution,” member of the Board Mufti Ajaz Arshad Qasmi said.
CEO Ali and chairperson Siddiqui refused to comment on the issue, saying the matter is subjudice.