K Rahman Khan, the Union Minister of Minority Affairs inaugurated the National Conference on the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 2013 in New Delhi on 6 November 2013. The conference was organised to update and sensitize Chairmen and CEOs of State Wakf Boards across the country.
It is important to note that various amendments were introduced in the Wakf Act in order to strengthen the Wakf Institution and stream line their functioning. Some of the important provisions incorporated in the Act and highlighted by the Minister include-
• The definition of Wakf has been modified to allow non-Muslims also to create Wakf;
• If the tenancy, lease or license has expired or been terminated, this would be considered as encroachment;
• The Survey Commissioner will be appointed within three months and survey required to be completed within a year;
• Wakf properties already surveyed and notified are not to be reviewed again in subsequent surveys except where the status of such property has been changed in accordance with the provisions of any law;
• The Central Wakf Council has been empowered to issue directive to the State Wakf Boards on their financial performance, survey, maintenance of Wakf deeds, revenue records, and encroachment of Wakf properties seeking annual report and audit report;
• Any dispute arising out of a directive issued by the Central Wakf Council to be referred to a Board of Adjudication to be constituted by the Central Government, to be presided over by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court;
• The Establishment of State Wakf Boards within 6 months from the date of commencement of this Act;
• Sale, Gift, Mortgage, Exchange and Transfer of Wakf properties have been prohibited to curb alienation of Wakf properties;
• Lease of Wakf properties is being allowed. However, Lease of Mosque, Dargah, Khanquah, Graveyard and Imambara has been prohibited;
• The Board will sanction lease when two thirds of total membership of the Board is present and cast their vote in favour of such transaction;
• The lease period has been enhanced uniformly upto 30 years for commercial activities, education or health purposes with the approval by the State Govt. because of the long gestation periods of such projects and the long periods of return on capital employed. The maximum period of lease of agricultural land is fixed for 3 years. Further, lease beyond 3 years is to be intimated to the State Government and it would become effective only after 45 days.
• The provisions of this Act shall have overriding effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force.