Trader-tenants of Waqf properties on Sunday staged a protest seeking withdrawal of Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013 which designates a person as an “encroacher” once the Waqf board stops collecting rent from him and 2014 rules which limit lease period to a “shorter” duration of 30 years.
An association, representing outfits of traders-tenants, also claimed the Waqf properties were being used by them for over 80 years and they have paid donations to the tune of Rs 60 to Rs 80 lakh, which they insisted be treated as “premium of properties”.
Waqf properties tenant-traders from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh took part in the protest held at Jantar Mantar.
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“According to the definition of encroacher incorporated in the amendment made in 2013 to the 1995 Waqf Act, a tenant becomes an encroacher the moment Waqf Board stops collecting rent from him/her.
“Encroacher is the person who is into any property without the knowledge of landlord. We are inducted as the lawful tenant by the Waqf Board. We want the amendment be withdrawn,” Preetpal Singh, vice president of Waqf Tenants Association said during the protest.
He claimed the trader-tenants have been using the Waqf properties for over 80 years and paid donations of Rs 60 to Rs 80 lakh to the respective state Waqf boards. He insisted the donations be treated as “premium of properties”.
On the 2014 rules, which say the lease period will vary from three years to 30 years, Singh said “Since we have paid donations, we want a long-term solution to this”.
“We want the lease period to remain 99 years and not be restricted to 30 only years. The 99-year provision is not our own, but that of land owning agencies of Delhi and India,” he claimed.
With respect to rent, Singh said the rent recovered from tenants should not be subject to market rates as they have paid donations.