After nearly 10 months of dissolution, the Gujarat government has appointed five members to the state Wakf Board.
Of the five, four newly appointed members are associated with the BJP. The only Congress member on the board, which usually has a strength of 10, is Jamalpur MLA Imran Khedawala.
In the absence of a Muslim MP from Gujarat, the government has appointed Sofia Jamalbhai, an independently elected member of Godhra Municipality. Late Congress MP Ahmed Patel earlier occupied the position of a parliamentary representative in the body that controls nearly 14,000 properties in Gujarat.
Radiologist Mohsin Lokhandwala has been appointed to fill the vacancy meant to be filled by a professional town planner, as per the notification dated November 7 by the state’s Legal Department.
The other appointees in the category of recognised scholars in Shia and Sunni Islamic theology are Jishaan Nakvi and Aasif Kader Shelot.
Four newly appointed members are associated with the BJP. Dr. Mohsin Lokhandwala is the BJP state minority wing president, while Aasif Shelot is also a BJP worker and member of the BJP state secretary of the minority wing. Sofiya is an active BJP worker but she contested Godhra Nagar Palika’s election as an independent candidate. She also supported the BJP in ruling in Godhra Nagar Palika. Jishaan Nakvi is also a BJP worker.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Dr. Mohsin Lokhandwala said, “The state government has nominated a total of five members, including a woman member. Now one member from Muttawalli (administrator) will be elected. The Muslim lawyers who are members of the Bar will elect one member and send his name to the state as a lawyer member of the State Wakf board. The state government-appointed GAS (Gujarat Administrative Service) or IAS will also be a member of the board.”
Meanwhile, State Law Secretary P M Raval told The Indian Express, “After Diwali, we will start the procedure of election of Muttawalli and lawyer and once they are elected, one of the officials not below joint secretary level will be appointed as an officer with the state Wakf board. Once the entire procedure of appointment is finished, all eight members will elect one member as chairperson of the state Wakf Board. If there is no litigation filed by any individual with the court, most probably, the State Wakf Board body will be functional from January next year.”
“When there is no Muslim MP or former MP in the state, there is a provision in the law that the government may appoint any member in the same category, and for that Sofia Jamalbhai has been nominated in that category,” Raval added. “For the election of Muttawalli, the criterion underlines the membership of trust and last year’s annual audit report of the religious property he belongs to should be submitted. The annual income of the property should be Rs 1 lakh.
Currently, there are over 200 properties in the state following such criteria and day by day the number is increasing. One member of the Trust will be eligible to contest the election and all the Muttawali should elect a single member who will be the member of State Wakf Board. There are over 14,000 registered Wakf properties in the state,” he further added.
Former IAS officer H A Khumar who was associated with the State Wakf board retired in June. He was given an extension for ten months by the government. It is being speculated that Khumar would now be a government-appointed officer.