Government panel fails to decide fate of 123 wakf properties in Delhi
The Delhi wakf commissioner should take a final call on the ownership rights of the 123 prime wakf properties in the national capital, a government-appointed committee has recommended.
The panel’s suggestion is seen as a temporary setback to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) that approached the Delhi high court challenging the UPA government’s decision to de-notify the properties in March 2014, two months before its term ended.
The VHP had raised the issue with the NDA government shortly after it came to power.
The urban development ministry set up the one-member committee under retired judicial officer JR Aryan in May last year to review the UPA decision that resulted in the ownership rights of these 123 properties getting transferred to Delhi Wakf Board from the government.
A majority of these properties are mired in controversy over their ownership rights. Located in prime real estate such as Connaught Place, Janpath, Ashoka Road, Pandara Road and Jangpura, the properties are estimated to be worth crores of rupees in current market value.
“Had the panel taken a call on the ownership of properties and not left it to the waqf commissioner, the NDA government could have struck down the UPA’s decision,” an official source said.
The issue could now hang fire as its resolution will involve Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government, which appoints the waqf commissioner. The post is vacant after the last incumbent Azimul Haque was transferred to Arunachal Pradesh last October. The then Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung had also dissolved the Delhi Wakf Board last October. The new board is yet to be constituted.
The commissioner, a bureaucrat appointed by the Delhi government, plays the role of an arbitrator in disputes related to waqf properties. The Aryan committee has recommended that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the urban development (UD) ministry should approach the Delhi wakf commissioner for a solution in the politically sensitive case, sources said.
In its petition, the VHP accused the UPA government of showing “undue favour” towards the “Muslim community for showing them that the government was gifting them away 123 prime properties in Delhi”.
In August 2014, the high court while disposing the petition, had asked the Union government to “take an appropriate decision” after hearing all stakeholders.
Before the de-notification, ownership rights of 61 of the 123 properties vested with the land and development office under the UD ministry while 62 was with DDA.
Revenue from wakf properties is used for carrying out welfare activity for Muslims but government officials said many of these properties are being used for commercial purpose by individuals and organisations.
The Aryan panel report has not gone down well with the government, which is yet to take a decision on the report.
“The committee sat for over a year but failed to look into the core issue of whether the properties belong to wakf board or have been encroached upon by illegal occupants,” said an official.
Set up in May last year for a six-month period, the committee was mandated with seeking the views of all stakeholders.
Besides, it had to examine statements given by all stakeholders and submit its report along with recommendations. The committee was given a six-month extension last November. It had sought an extension again this May, which was rejected by the government.