Supreme Court order on remuneration to imams a violation of Constitution: CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Friday said the Supreme Court’s 1993 order to pay remuneration to imams of mosques was in “violation of the Constitution”.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Friday said the Supreme Court’s 1993 order to pay remuneration to imams of mosques was in “violation of the Constitution”, adding that the order not only set a “wrong precedent” but also became a reason for an unnecessary political slugfest.
While hearing an RTI application filed by an activist demanding details of salaries to imams by the Delhi government and the Delhi Waqf Board, Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar observed that the Supreme Court’s order violated the constitutional provision that taxpayers’ money will not be used for promotion and maintenance of a particular religion.
In 1993, a Supreme Court bench of justice RM Sahay, on a petition by the All India Imam Organisation, ordered the Waqf boards to pay adequate salaries to imams of mosques.
The CIC order stated that it was the policy of giving “special benefits to Muslim community before 1947 that played a key role in encouraging pan-Islamic and fissiparous tendencies in a section of Muslims ultimately leading to the nation’s partition”.
“So giving salaries to imams and others only in mosques, amounts to not just betraying the Hindu community and members of other non-Muslim Minority religions but also encouraging pan-Islamist tendencies amongst a section of Indian Muslims which are already visible. Steps like giving special religious benefits to Muslim community only like the one taken up in the present matter, in fact severely affects interfaith harmony as they invite contempt for the Muslims as a whole from a section of ultra nationalist population,” it stated.
The CIC directed that a copy of its order be sent to the Union law minister with suitable action to ensure enforcement of provisions of articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution in letter and spirit to keep all religions on a par in terms of monthly remuneration to priests of different religions at the cost of the public exchequer, both central and states, and also other matters.
“With regard to the judgment by the Supreme Court in the case between the ‘All India Imam Organisation and ... vs Union Of India And Ors’ on 13 May, 1993, that opened the doors to special financial benefits from public treasury to only imams and muezzins in mosques, the commission observes that the highest court of the country in passing this order acted in violation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly Article 27, which says taxpayers money will not be used to favour any particular religion,” Mahurkar said in the order.
The commissioner further noted that the said judgment sets a “wrong precedent in the country”. “... and has become a point of unnecessary political slugfest and also social disharmony in the society”.
The commission directed the Delhi chief minister’s office to provide information on queries in the RTI application, and also complete information with all related documents on honorariums being paid to imams and others in mosques in the Capital..
“The Commission further directs CPIO, Delhi Wakf Board, to provide compensation of ₹25000/- to the appellant keeping in view the mental agony he faced and man hours and resources he lost due to stonewalling of the information by DWB for almost nine months,” it said.