Article 2. Karnataka State Board of Waqfs: Land Scandal
Under Section 3 (r) of the Waqf Act, 1955, (herein referred to as the ‘Act,’) ““waqf” means the permanent dedication by any person, of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognised by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable…”
Under Section 32 (1) of the Act, “Subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, the general superintendence of all auqaf in a State shall vest in the Board established or the State; and it shall be the duty of the Board so to exercise its powers under this Act as to ensure that the auqaf under its superintendence are properly maintained, controlled and administered and the income thereof is duly applied to the objects and for the purposes for which such auqaf were created or intended…”
Under Section 51 (1A) of the Act, “Any sale, gift, exchange, mortgage or transfer of waqf property shall be void ab initio…” provided also that “…the purpose for which the land is being acquired shall be undisputedly for a public purpose…”
Under Section 104A of the Act, “(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force or any waqf deed, no person shall sell, gift, exchange, mortgage or transfer any movable or immovable property which is a waqf property to any other person.
(2) Any sale, gift, exchange, mortgage or transfer of property referred to in sub-section (1) shall be void ab initio.”
The Muslim Law directs the Waqf property to be utilised in a pious, religious, or a charitable purpose.
B. Land Scandal
The Karnataka State Board of Waqfs (herein referred to as the ‘Waqf Board’) is registered under the Act which maintains, controls, and administers auqafs, and manages the income generated by the same. It also appoints a Mutawalli for supervising the Board. The same Waqf Board owned 33,741 properties which was spread over 54,000 acres of land whereby, over 22,000 to 27,000 acres of land worth two lakh crore rupees was laundered to private individuals mostly between 2001 and 2012 by the members of the Waqf Board, middlemen, and politicians who never had the right to sell such land in the first place. In 2012, on the basis of the registrar’s assessment of the land, 50% of the laundered property was sold to land mafia during the period of elections.
The properties so fraudulently and illegally sold were supposed to be utilised for charitable purposes such as building mosques, dargahs, graveyards, bridges, caravanserais, Khanqahs, et cetera; and/or repairing Imambaras, burning lamps in mosques, paying money to fakirs, giving grant to colleges, et cetera. But the same were being used for personal purposes making such sales invalid and contrary to the provisions of the Act.
C. Report of the land scandal
The 7,000-plus-paged Report regarding the same case provided to the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. D. V. Sadananda Gowda, concluded that eighty-five percent of such misappropriation of the Waqf land had taken place in Bengaluru; and other major cities being Mysore, Bidar, and Gulbagra whereby, it revealed that amongst the people who worked in the Waqf Board during that time of the scandal, Congress leaders (manily the Muslim ones) were involved in such crime resulting the land scandal as one of the biggest in the country.
Some names were mentioned in the said Report as follows. Dharam Singh, Tanveer Sait, Qamarul Islam, Jaffer Sherif, N.A. Hariss, Roshan Baig, and Rahman Khan.
D. Tabling of the Report in the Karnataka Assembly
In 2012, Anwar Manipaddy’s Report was tabled in the February-March Belgaum session. The alleged information given in the Report was approved by the Cabinet. Hon’ble Supreme Court then made a conclusion: once a Waqf land is always a Waqf land. It means that once any property is dedicated to the Waqf board, the same cannot be revoked. The Hon’ble Court also suspended the Institution for a year, and acquired the Waqf property so that no interference in the investigation is made.
Conclusively, such suspension of the institution by the Supreme Court is a valid judgement.