Maharashtra government to open religious plots for private use
The state has proposed to amend the Act through ordinance, after its attempt to pass the bill in the budget session failed last month.mumbai Updated: Apr 16, 2018 10:21 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government’s move to allow tracts of land held by religious places to be given away for public and private use in Marathwada could face strong opposition from the trustees.
The lands granted to religious places, including temples, mosques, dargahs and gurudwara, were so far protected under the Hyderabad Atiya Inquiries Act, 1952. The state has proposed to amend the Act through ordinance, after its attempt to pass the bill in the budget session failed last month.
Marathwada was part of the princely state of Hyderabad ruled by Nizam of Hyderabad and its former rulers have granted large tracts of lands to devasthans across communities, so they could take care of their daily expenses by using the plots. The plots that were given to mosques are called Khidmatmash Inami lands in the government records. The amendment will allow all Khidmatmash Inami plots to be used for public projects, as well as medical and educational purposes.
According to Congress legislator and former minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan, such plots are treated as properties protected under the Wakf Act, 1995, which cannot be overruled by any other legislation. “The bill was held back, stating that it will be changed taking our objections into account. Despite that, the government has decided to promulgate the ordinance. We will not allow the government to open Wakf properties for private use,” Khan said.
Officials from the state revenue department, which has proposed the amendment, said the Khidmatmash Inami lands don’t come under the purview of the Wakf Act. “The act is not applicable to any of the properties. We have no intention to allow transfer of Wakf land through this bill,” said a senior official requesting anonymity.
A senior official from the state minority affairs department said sub-section II of the section 3 (R) clearly indicates all Khidmatmash Inami lands are Wakf properties.
Confirming that the revenue department has not sought their opinion, Shyam Tagade, principal secretary, state minority affairs department, said he can’t comment on it.
“Marathwada has total 57,802 acres in Wakf properties, which comes to around 60% of the total 93,418 acres of Wakf land across the state. Even if 5% of the total Wakf properties are Khidmatmash lands, the land parcels to be opened with the move goes in thousands of acres,” said a religious leader.