Taking cognisance of a Central Waqf Council (CWC) report, the state has recommended a CBI probe into alleged misuse of Waqf property worth crores. The state minority affairs minister has recommended removal of the chairpersons of both Shia and Sunni Central Waqf Boards, indicted for “misuse of office” in the report. Minority Affairs and Waqf Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said the government, based on a recommendation by the CWC, has recommended a CBI probe into the alleged scam and “misuse of office” by former SP minister Azam Khan and officials of both boards.
“There are serious allegations of corruption and misuse of office against chairpersons of both boards as well as the former cabinet minister for Waqf. The CWC had probed these charges and recommended removal of the chairpersons and further investigation,” Chaudhary told The Indian Express. “I have written to the chief minister for expulsion of both chairperons and further investigation against them as well as the former minister, as recommended. I am sure both (chairpersons) would be removed.”
In March this year, Syed Ejaz Abbas, lawyer and CWC member, had visited different parts of the state including Azam’s home district Rampur to look into complaints received by the council. Based on this, he had prepared the two reports which recommended the measures to the government.
In one report, which the CWC had sent to UP Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar on April 8, Abbas had recommended probes into the Shia Waqf Board’s scams be handled by CBI and Enforcement Directorate under as per Section 173 of CrPC.
He had also expressed apprehension about the safety of documents related to waqf board land and had recommended, “There are circumstances and multiple grounds to invoke jurisdiction of section 99 of Waqf Act 1995 to dissolve the Shia Central Waqf Board and appoint administrator till commencement of the fresh board.” Abbas, who is also a member of the planning and finance committee of the council, had made the same recommendations for Sunni Waqf Board too.
Abbas told The Indian Express, “Usually, a member in-charge visits the state when there are seven to eight complaints. But from UP, about 100 complaints were received in the recent past alleging misuse of power and corruption. I was surprised during my visit that hardly any rules were being followed across the state with regard to the Waqf land. I camped in UP for 15 days but considering the extent of anomalies, I recommended a CBI probe.”
He further said, “In many cases, I have also recommended lodging FIRs as there were instances where land at prime locations worth crores were being given for Re 1 rent per annum. In some cases, instead of Rs 25,000 rent for commercial land, merely Rs 5,000 was being charged despite the fact that there is provision to auction in accordance with the market rates.”
Abbas also said he was surprised that Waqf employees had not received salaries for the past 10 months and yet, most of the them were “happy and satisfied”. “Moreover, there are no documents available of the litigations at the Waqf board office. “In Rampur, I was told that the documents were destroyed in a fire. They failed to give me the date of the fire and details of other files that were destroyed,” he added.
The report had recommended FIRs and further probe into complaints pertaining to alleged use of Waqf land by Dr Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation University, established in Lucknow by UP’s handicap welfare department. “This case needed to be investigated as no record is available in the office of the Shia Waqf Board, Lucknow,” it said.
In the second part of the report related to the Sunni Waqf Board, Abbas mentioned, “In Rampur, all the construction of Rampur Public School and Maulana Jauhar Private University is taking place after flattening the entire Sunni Waqf property and therefore is in blatant violation of section 51 (2) and 56 of Waqf Act 1995 and section 3 of Waqf Property Lease Rules 2014, which clearly states that the ‘Mutawalli’ (caretaker) or the Waqf Board shall have no right to lease the premises of a ‘Yateemkhana’ to another trust”.
The report further alleges, “Azam Khan via his person Zafar Farooqui.. has appointed senior police officer CO (circle officer) Rampur Mr Hasan as ‘Mutawalli’ of the Sunni Yateemkhana and other Sunni Waqf of Rampur to directly grab the same under his family-owned trust.”
The report points out that most of the Waqf is for the poor. “Its top regulating body i.e UP Sunni Waqf board has failed to help even a single needy out of 3 crore 90 lakh Sunni Muslims in the last 12 years. It failed to frame rules to help widows, divorcees or other such circumstantial destitute humans… it has no proper framework to uplift deteriorating educational level of Sunni Muslims.”
Abbas’ report also said, “I found serious case of misuse of office by Azam Khan, his wife Taseen Fatema, his sons and his main culprit officers.”
Syed Wasim Rizvi and Zafar Ahmad Farooqui, sitting chairmen of the Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards respectively, could not be reached for comment.