The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided to launch a “systematic movement to ensure that women get their share in property of their father”, according to the Board’s working committee.
In a statement issued Monday, the Board said many of its participants felt that although Sharia law gives women a fixed share in inheritance, in many cases they do not get this share. Similarly, they are often denied inheritance of share from their sons’ or husbands’ property, it stated.
The AIMPLB’s decision to look into the matter of women’s inheritance comes at a time when the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has started looking into possible instruments to expedite cases of dispute of Waqf properties.
Sources in the ministry said while a wide range of disputes and issues related to Waqf properties and Waqf boards across the country were being scrutinised by the Centre, it is also studying the second provision of Waqf Act — Waqf-alal-aulad — created for a Wakif’s family or children and used as an instrument of succession.
“The issue with Waqf-alal-aulad is that it is for male descendants; women cannot be named in the deed of Waqf property,” an official said. “We have received representations from families where all children are daughters but the law doesn’t recognise their succession.” According to the official, this is a method often used to deny women and orphans their inheritance rights.
AIMPLB spokesperson S Q R Ilyas said the Board’s working committee has also realised that women face social problems such as female foeticide, dowry, late marriage, attacks on their dignity, exploitation at workplaces, domestic violence, among others. “The Board took notice of these matters and decided that special attention will be given to reform society from within,’’ he said.
The Board has set up three divisions headed by three secretaries — Maulana S Ahmad Faisal Rahmani, Maulana Md Umrain Mahfooz Rahmani, and Maulana Yasin Ali Usmani — as in-charge of such social reforms.
In July, the Ministry of Minority Affairs had announced its intent of a re-look at the Waqf Act after a meeting with Waqf board CEOs from 20 states highlighted the large number of disputes over Waqf properties — more than 58,000 complaints related to Waqf properties received, of which 18,426 cases were with Waqf tribunals. There are 165 cases related to Waqf disputes before the Supreme Court, and high courts across the country, ministry officials said.
According to officials, the sweeping powers given to state Waqf boards to declare a particular property as one belonging to the Waqf has contributed largely to the rise in litigation.
In its statement, the AIMPLB said, “The working committee expressed deep concern over the government’s crackdown [on] Wakf properties, criminal negligence of Wakf boards and cases filed against the Wakf Act in various high courts. It was decided that Waqf conferences will be organised in five major cities on the Shariah status of Wakf, threats to Wakf properties and possible remedial measures.”