To bear Ayodhya case litigation cost, AIMPLB to embark on fund raiser
Fighting the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in court has never been easy for UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, which does not have enough funds to pay its employees’ salaries due for past nine months.
The task has been entrusted to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the religious body of Muslims, which though not a litigant in the Ayodhya case, has played an active role as a stake-holder and funding the legal battle. With the Supreme Court all set to commence day-to-day hearing in the Ayodhya title suit from Tuesday, the AIMPLB plans to have enough money at its disposal to take care of the legal expenses. “We would need at least Rs 15 to 20 crore for paying the fee of the lawyers and meeting other sundry expenditure to be incurred now that the hearing is all set to commence in the case,” says a Board office-bearer requesting anonymity.
Since we were pretty much sure that the mediation process was not going to succeed, we had discussed the issue and planned our fund-raising exercise much before, he said. The AIMPLB secretary and also convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani, however, said that the organisation has never sought any public donation or funds from people not part of the outfit. “The Board has never issued any appeal for funds from the people. Whatever contributions we get comes from our members or from donations received during the Board’s meetings held in various parts of the city,” he said adding that a regular audit of its account was done and a report was submitted by its chartered accountant to the authorities.
Sources said that AIMPLB office-bearers were given specific targets and collect the money from their own resources and personal contacts. “We have been told that at least 100-days hearing in the case would take place before the final verdict. Apart from a senior lawyer, the Board would have to hire at least two other junior lawyers to prepare the brief and assist him (senior lawyer) in the case. The daily expenditure expected was around Rs 10 to 15 lakh,” said another member requesting anonymity.
The last such collection came from the organisation’s Hyderabad meet last year. “The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) e chief Asaduddin Owaisi gave away Rs 75 lakh from his party and another Rs 25 lakh was donated by other members,” said an AIMPLB member who attended the meeting. Similarly, another Rs 55 lakh and 12-13 lakh were collected in earlier sessions of the Board held in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Besides organisations like Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, which also has filed two appeals in the title suit, also come to help by hiring senior lawyers and taking care of their fee. “The JIH paid Rs 3.50 lakh fee to its lawyer for hearing in the case last year,” the member said adding that the financial issues of the AIMPLB were handled largely by the board’s general secretary. Apart from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Patna, Bhopal, Jaipur and Lucknow are some of the other cities from where the organization expects to receive contributions.