The Telangana High Court on Monday made some scathing remarks about State Wakf board CEO Mohammed Qasim for his alleged inefficiency in protecting the wakf properties from land sharks. The court denounced the Wakf board and observed that prima facie it seemed like the board’s CEO was hand in glove with the land grabbers. The Court asked the Telangana government to replace the CEO and find someone to replace him who would be able to save the properties.
The bench comprised of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Vijay Sen Reddy. They questioned whether the CEO has read the criminal procedure code with whose aid he was entitled to protect the Wakf properties even when police refused to register an FIR against the encroachers. According to the data available on the website of the state Wakf board, 75% of its total properties have been encroached upon. Wakf institutions include dargahs, graveyards, mosques, ashoorkhanas, chillas and takias among others.
The CEO had stated to the court that in most cases the station house officers were refusing to register FIRs on his complaints citing that they were civil disputes. The bench went through the report submitted by the CEO and observed that as many as 86 Muslim graveyards in Hyderabad had been encroached and the board had managed to get FIRs registered in only 5 cases.
The court reminded the CEO that he had the option of approaching the SP of the district if the concerned Station House Officer refused to register a case. The court conveyed that approaching the jurisdictional magistrate and lodging a complaint was also another option as the court could then direct the police to register a case. The bench questioned the CEO and asked in how many cases this had been done. The CEO replied that he wasn’t aware of this and that he had not read the criminal procedure code.
Speaking to TNM, State Wakf Board CEO Mohammed Qasim conveyed that the High Court has not taken cognizance of the report he has submitted. He said, “The Court asked me why cases were not filed against encroachers. It has just been three months since I joined. In the history of the Wakf Board, the authorities have never gone to the magistrate if an FIR was not filed. The standing counsel of the board did not guide me about this process.
“I submitted in my report all the steps I have taken in the last three months after I joined. I have managed to save around 20-30 Wakf properties and all this has been mentioned in the report but it was not considered by the court. I am being made the scapegoat from what the others before me have not done”, added the CEO.
The Chief Justice expressed his anguish and opined that the state must take a serious view of the dereliction of duties by Mohammed Qasim. The bench also directed the principal secretary of minorities welfare to file an affidavit by December 17 explaining the steps taken to restore lost properties.
When asked what the process will now be, the CEO said the principal secretary can take the decision. If he feels that the CEO is capable of making amends now, he can tell the court about the same. Qasim told TNM that he is hopeful that he will get to stay, and if he does, he will do all that is necessary to ensure amends are made as directed by the court.