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Digitisation of Wakf records: Top court seeks Centre’s reply

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and central and state Wakf boards to respond to a plea seeking computerisation of documents and details of properties, owned by Wakf boards across the country.

‘This is a very important matter. Issue notice,’ a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjana P Desai and Shiv Kirti Singh said.

Besides the Minority Affairs Ministry and various Wakf boards, the bench also asked National Informatics Centre to file their responses to the PIL filed by a Uttar Pradesh-based NGO Manav Vikas Sewa Samiti through its president Saleem Baig.

The NGO, in its plea, said the Centre, in pursuance of a report of a joint parliamentary committee, had issued an order on 18 December, last year, to all Wakf boards for computerisation of their documents and details of properties attached to them in all the states.

‘Since no time frame was made by the Ministry of Minority Affairs for the completion of work of digitisation of record of Wakf boards, therefore, most of the Wakf boards has failed to complete their work...,’ the PIL said, adding an amount of Rs 25 crore has already been disbursed for the purpose.

"Waqf properties are spread all over the country but even the basic surveys of Waqf properties have not been done in most of the states. There is hardly any development of Waqf properties and a very substantial income that the Waqf properties could have generated for the welfare schemes of the community are lost because of non-development and large scale encroachment of Waqf properties," it said.

The petition, filed through lawyer Shaad Anwar, also sought a direction to Wakf boards that they should respond to queries put under the Right to Information Act.

It cited illustrations in which Delhi Wakf Board declined information on the ground that it lacked "wherewithal" to provide voluminous response.

In the other case, Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board demanded Rs 4 lakh as the cost of information to be provided under the transparency law.
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