New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha Monday passed a bill that seeks to prevent misuse of Wakf properties and make them commercially viable by providing for their leasing.
Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan said the Waqf Amendment Bill, 2011 will prevent misuse of wakf (charitable endowments) properties.
He said the bill provides for penal action against public servants who fail to prevent encroachment of Wakf properties.
The bill was earlier passed by Lok Sabha. It was, however, referred to a select committee when it came up in Rajya Sabha.
Khan lauded the efforts of the select committee as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee which suggested several amendments.
"The opposition cooperated with us fully. I hope the bill is passed by Lok Sabha soon. It will have salutary impact on minority welfare," he told reporters later.
The minister said huge tracts of wakf lands are either in possession of encroachers or leased or rented out at ridiculously low prices.
"Once the new law comes into force, wakf boards can register FIRs against people or institutions who are in possession of their lands without due authorisations. Getting them evicted would also take much less time," he said.
Khan said his ministry is also working to make wakf properties public premises under a new law which will make any encroachment automatically illegal and a penal offence.
The amended bill will now go back to the Lok Sabha for consideration and passage.