Are all charitable trusts created by muslim person Waqf Property? Supreme Court says it will decide contours of Waqf Act

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The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will decide on whether every charitable trust which is set up by a person practicing Islam automatically becomes a Waqf Property.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that several petitions raise this question as they have challenged the question of law from a 2011 Bombay High Court order which had set aside a two circulars issued by the state of Maharashtra in 2002, vide which Waqf Board had been constituted under the Waqf Act, notifying properties to be designated as Waqf. The High Court stated that the state would be at liberty to supervise Waqf's not registered as public trust.

Today Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for petitioner(s) and pointed out the question of law, while Attorney General for India KK Venugopal submitted that the bench should confine itself to the issue of the constitution of the Waqf.

Bench proceeded to post the batch of plea(s) on August 10.

The heart of the issue lies in a controversy in 1997. Maharashtra conducted a survey to list Waqf's in the state which was completed in 2002. However, a common board was constituted for both Shia and Sunni sects by the state government which was one of the main grievances. 

The order had also directed the charity commissioner to continue supervising the Muslim Public Trusts including those Waqf's not registered as public Trust. In view of this, the contours of the Waqf Act became an issue of contention.

In 2004, Haji Ali Dargah Trust, Anjuman-i-Islam and Zainum Morriswala Trust had challenged the constitution of the Waqf Board by the state government of Maharashtra as defective. The Bombay High Court held that all public trusts will be governed by the Public Trust Act. 

Case Title: Maharashtra State Board Of Wakfs V. Shaikh Yusuf Bhai Chawla & Ors. (& connected matters)