Hyderabad: The state government makes tall claims of protecting the Telangana Wakf Board properties, but closer scrutiny of the cases pending in various courts will indicate that the government had no interest in protecting the Wakf Board lands and properties.
A total of 2892 Wakf Board property cases are pending from the Supreme Court till the lower courts but the Wakf Board has no qualified lawyers to represent these cases.
The number of Wakf Board property cases are increasing day by day and the occupiers of these lands are adept in getting the stay orders from the courts to delay these cases for decades.
With regard to some prime properties, there was a collusion between the Wakf Board officials and occupiers as a result the Board lost many valuable properties.
There are a number of cases where the property records were intentionally missed or manipulated. The occupiers of the Wakf Board lands acquired the complete files while there is no record of these properties within the Board.
The Government of Telangana has sealed the Wakf Board property record room but still it cannot be said with certainty that the Board has safely maintained the records of all its properties and lands.
As for the number of cases pending in various courts there are 12 cases in Supreme Court, 1431 in High Court, 1016 in Waqf Tribunal and 114 in the district courts. These cases are related to the properties, muttawavalis and committees. Similarly, there are 319 cases pending regarding the divorced women allowance.
According to a reliable source, there is interference in the selection of standing counsels for representing the cases which is the main reason for the Wakf Board losing many cases.
According to the source, there is no special counsel to represent the Board cases in the Supreme Court while there are only two to represent the cases in the High Court. The first standing Counsel looks after the cases of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy while the other deals with remaining districts’ cases. The number of only two counsels to look after 1431 pending cases is woefully insufficient.
Recently a number of the lawyers of the standing counsels were terminated due to their diligence and efficiency and their refusal to take instructions from the officials.
There is no paucity of qualified and experienced lawyers in the Muslim community but the Wakf Board needs such lawyers who are pliable and who can act under their instructions. There are only 3 standing counsels to represent 1016 Tribunal cases while no lawyer was appointed to represent the Board in district courts.
The Telangana Wakf Board suffered defeats in many high profile cases such as Dargah Hussain Shah Waliullah, Dargah Hazrat Baba Sharfuddin, Eidgah Gutla and Begumpet lands. The occupiers gained upper hands in these cases due to insufficient records presented in the Courts by the Board officials.
The Wakf Board could only present gazette and survey reports as proof to prove property right while the occupiers of Wakf Board lands presented revenue records to prove their property rights.
The Courts do not recognise gazette or survey reports as proof for property rights. Unless the Wakf Board properties are entered in revenue records, these properties shall be vulnerable to encroachment and difficult to safeguard them.
All the Wakf Board properties records were sent to the district collectors across the state with instructions to enter them into revenue records. But regretfully this work has not been started in many districts.
According to the expert, the Telangana Wakf Board must avail the services of experienced and qualified lawyers if they are serious about protecting the Wakf Board properties across the state.