Encroachment of Wakf property will henceforth be a cognizable offence, and in case of any such dispute, an FIR must be registered by the police.

The new rule is a part of amendments to the Wakf Act, 1995, with a view to protecting properties belonging to all Wakf boards in India, said Union Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan.

Mr. Khan told reporters here on Friday that the Central Wakf Tribunal would also seek a yearly annual audit from Wakf boards across the country to make sure there were no irregularities. “The tribunal can seek any record, deed or any other information it needs, to check for violations. It can also advise State governments. Wakf boards will have to mandatorily follow instructions from the council,” he said. Mr. Khan said sale of properties such as dargahs, mosques, and Muslim graveyards cannot be made, nor can they be mortgaged. Keeping in mind violations by other parties, the lease period for Wakf properties had been raised to 30 years from the previous one and three-year agreements. “After the existing leases expire, the renewal has to be done in accordance with the new laws,” he said.

“From now on, all Wakf Board disputes will be taken before a three-member tribunal rather than the civil courts,” he said.

He also censured the A.P. government for not appointing a full-time CEO for the Wakf Board.

“I will take up this issue as a new board has to be formed within six months in all States, once the tenure of the current one is over,” Mr. Khan added.

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