Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday tried to dispel apprehensions among Muslims over the wakf amendment bill passed by Lok Sabha early this year, saying it will not impact the Babri Masjid title cases.
Addressing a seminar on the bill which is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, Khurshid said the proposed amendments to the law was formulated after intense debate by Parliamentary Standing Committees, Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim law experts.
"There are some apprehensions among the Muslim community over the proposed amendments to the Wakf Act, if it would adversely impact the Babri Masjid title case.
"I have done enough enquiries, including with the Muslim clerics and leaders dealing with the Babri Masjid case, and I can assure you that it will have no impact at all," he said at the event organised by the South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association (SAMLA) here.
Khurshid said the Babri Masjid title was registered under the Wakf Act, but was not notified. "But this would not affect the (Babri Masjid) case," he added.
He said, "it is not true that this bill has been brought to the Parliament in a hurry."
Noting that the amendment bill was aimed at strengthening the administration of Wakf properties, he said the law would ensure that land grabbing, selling of Wakf properties and gifting Wakf land would not be possible.
"Once a property became a Wakf property, it would remain so and would serve the poor always. Nobody can alienate the property and those who have taken Wakf property on lease would not be able to manipulate the laws and illegally benefit from it. Those doing so would be punished severely under the law," he added.
Among the new provisions in the amended law were bringing down the time taken for survey of Wakf property from once every 20 years to once every 10 years.
"This way there will be quicker and regular identification of Wakf properties and it would become easier to register them and notify them," he added.
Khurshid said the government was in the process of digitising the Wakf properties list, which would be done in two years from now so that the details could be accessed from anywhere in the country.
The government was also setting up a Wakf Development Agency to promote and maximise the use of the properties for the welfare of the community.
It was also setting up Central Universities on Wakf land under the public-private partnership model to augment educational facilities provided by Aligarh and Jamia Milia universities in under-developed areas of the country.
Another move would be to issue title deeds for 123 plots of Wakf land identified in the early 1980s to the respective Wakf Boards across the country, Khurshid added.