Hyderabad: The meeting of the government-appointed qazis, convened by the Wakf Board on Saturday to discuss the contract marriage menace in the Old City, could have been an important step in addressing the issue, given the crucial role qazis play in the marriages. However, only 8 of the 14 appointed qazis bothered to turn up for the meeting, while others defying the board`s authority.
The qazis, who turned up for the meeting, claimed that they would not perform marriages of young city girls with foreigners who appeared to be `suspicious` in nature. The qazis also resolved that the legal issues pertaining to the marriages would be scrutinized far more closely from now onwards, especially those involving Arab nationals.
During the hour-long discussion with the Wakf Board chairman Ghulam Afzal Biyabani, they maintained that although they did not have the authority to completely prevent foreigners from marrying city girls, they would be stricter with people asking for their services. “In case qazis are approached by brokers to perform such contract marriages, we will refuse to do so. Unless they get permission from their respective governments or the police, we will not entertain such requests,” said qazi Mir Mohammed Khader Ali of Shahalibanda.
Qazi Aslam Shareef, who performs marriages in Mangalhat, Begum Bazaar, Troop Bazaar, and its surrounding areas, said that he would avoid conducting Arab marriages as much as possible. Putting the blame solely on one qazi (Qazi Abdullah Rafai, who is notorious for conducting contract marriages, and was suspended by the government recently) “one qazi`s acts had maligned the image of the entire community,” he said.
Ever since the contract marriage racket broke out in the Old City, the Wakf Board has been maintaining that it does not have the regulatory powers to curb the menace. However, Lingaraj Panigrahi, principal secretary, minorities` affairs, blamed the board for its lackadaisical approach for the trouble. He said that the board was not performing its duties pertaining to Qazat system (a system of registering marriages). Speaking to STOI, Panigrahi said that the board is supposed to manage the Qazat system and serve as the watchdog of the government.
Miffed with the board calling itself a “toothless body”, Panigrahi said that the board is in fact the contact point for the qazis and should be vigilant. “It supplies the Nikahnama (marriage booklet), attests marriage certificates and is also supposed to maintain records of all the marriages. In fact, the board makes annual revenue of nearly Rs 2.5 — 3 crore selling Nikahnamas and attesting certificates. It is only when it is faced with serious issues like this does it say that everything is in the hands of the government,” said Panigrahi, adding that, henceforth, qazis will be asked to file all copies of the Nikahnamas on a monthly basis with the Wakf Board. TOI