By: Ibni Maqbool
Srinagar: Setting the stage for setting up of Waqf Board(s) in Jammu & Kashmir, the Government of India has empowered the Union Territory’s Lieutenant Governor to constitute the body mandated to look after Muslim shrines and properties in J&K.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has devolved powers and functions exercised by state governments under the central Waqf law to J&K’s LG within the Union Territory.
“In pursuance of clause (1) of article 239 of the Constitution, the President hereby directs that the powers and functions of the State Government under the Waqf Act, 1995 (43 of 1995) shall, subject to the control of the President and until further orders, be exercised by the Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir within that territory,” read the notification, a copy of which is with The Precious Kashmir.
The notification has been issued nearly 21 months after the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir was reorganised into two UTs.
Before the reorganization of J&K, two separate bodies- Waqf Board & Waqf Council- were mandated to look after Muslim shrines and properties in J&K.
Both these bodies ceased to exit from October 31, 2019 as laws under which these were set-up were repealed by the Parliament when it approved “The Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act”. These bodies were set-up respectively under “The Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Specified Waqfs and Specified Waqf Properties (Management and Regulation) Act-2004” and The Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Act-2001”.
In October 2020, LG Manoj Sinha wrote to the Ministry of Minority Affairs to constitute a Waqf Board for J&K.
The LG made the request because the Waqf Act-1995 empowers the Centre to constitute Waqf Board for UTs.
After examining the matter, the Ministry of Minority Affairs conveyed to the MHA that the power of constituting the Board in UTs has been delegated to their LGs/ administrators by the MHA.
“The matter has been considered and it is informed that as per section 14(1A) of the Waqf Act, 1995, powers are with the central government to constitute Waqf Board for a UT. However, this power of constituting the Board in a UT has been delegated by the Central government to the LG/administrator after obtaining consent of the concerned administrative ministry,” read the office memorandum of MoMA.
The MoMA also gave its consent to delegation of these powers to LG of J&K for constituting the body.
“In view of the above and to maintain uniformity for all UTs, the Ministry of Minority Affairs conveys consent for delegating the powers of Central government under the Waqf Act-1995 to the LG of J&K so that UT may constitute the Board and take other actions as per provisions of the above Act. As such immediate action may please be taken by Ministry of Home Affairs for issue of proposed notification.”