Tamil Nadu

PIL challenges appointment of special officer to Waqf Board

A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court challenging the validity of a government order issued on September 18 by which the State government had superseded the Tamil Nadu Waqf Board for a period of six months and appointed IAS officer M.A. Siddique as a Special Officer.

Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha on Friday ordered notices returnable by February 24 to the government as well as Chief Executive Officer of the waqf board on the petition filed by K. Fazlur Rahman, 54, an advocate based in Chennai, who claimed that the GO was completely illegal and erroneous.

The GO passed by the Backward Classes, Most Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department stated that the government in 2017 constituted a 11-member board for a period of five years. The then Member of Parliament A. Anwhar Raajhaa chaired the board and it also comprised of MLAs K.A.M. Muhammed Abubacker and K.S. Masthan.

Further, since there was no Muslim member in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, two designated senior counsel A. Sirajudeen and M. Ajmal Khan were nominated to the board. A. Tamilmahan Hussain was nominated as a person with professional experience apart from two scholars, two Muttawalis and a government nominee.

Subsequently, Mr. Raajhaa ceased to be a MP and consequently he could not continue either as chairman or even a member of the waqf board.

At the same time, a legal opinion obtained by the government stated that the two senior counsel in the board could be considered only as nominated members of the board and not as elected members.

Such opinion led to the nominated members of the board being more in number than the elected members which was not permissible under the Waqf Act of 1995. Hence, the government issued show-cause notices to the rest of the 10 members seeking their explanation as to why the government should not supersede the board.

Only four (K.A.M. Muhammed Abubacker, A.S. Fathima Muzaffer, Haja K. Majeed and Syed Ali Akbar) of the members replied to the show-cause notice and urged the government to drop the plan to supersede the board. They claimed that the two senior counsel should be considered as elected members and not nominated members.

However, On September 9, one of the two senior counsel Mr. Sirajudeen tendered his resignation citing personal reasons. Hence, the Government superseded the board on September 18 and appointed a Special Officer.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:25:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pil-challenges-appointment-of-special-officer-to-tn-waqf-board/article30570438.ece

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