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CIC finds flaw in SC order on renumeration to imams: Calls it is anti-Constitution

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New Delhi, Nov 26: The Central Information Commission said that the 1993 order of the Supreme Court allowing renumeration to imams in Mosques is in violation of the Constitution. It also said that this is a wrong precedent and has become an unnecessary political slugfest.

Information Commissioner, Uday Mahurkar while hearing an RTI application that demanded details of salaries being paid to imams by the Delhi government and the Delhi Waqf Board observed that the order violated constitutional provisions that say tax payer's money will not be used to favour any particular religion.

CIC finds flaw in SC order on renumeration to imams: Calls it is anti-Constitution

In 1993 the Supreme Court, while hearing a petition from the All India Imam Organisation had directed the Waqf Board to give renumeration to imams in Mosques managed by it.

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"Further 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 tax payers money will not be used to favour any particular religion," Mahurkar said.

"The commission notes 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," Mahurkar also added.

He also directed that a copy of his order be sent to the Union Law Minsitry with suitable action to ensure enforcement of provisions of Articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution in the letter and spirit to keep all religions on part in terms of monthly renumeration to priests of different religions at the cost of the public exchequer, both central and states and other matters.

The order also directed the Delhi Waqf Board to pay a compensation of Rs 25,000 to RTI activist Subhash Agarwal for the loss of time and resources in chasing the response to his application as the activist was not getting a satisfactory response.

"It is necessary to go into the history when it comes to giving special religious benefits to the Muslim community by the State. A religious (Islamic) nation Pakistan was born out of the demand of a section of Indian Muslims for partition of India along religious lines. Despite Pakistan choosing to be a religious (Islamic) nation, India chose a Constitution guaranteeing equal rights to all religions,"the commissioner said.

"It is necessary to note here that it was the policy of giving special benefits to the 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,"he added.

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"So the monthly honorarium of Rs 18,000 and Rs 16,000 being given to the imams and muezzins of DWB mosques in Delhi is being paid by the Delhi government virtually from the tax payers money which in turn is in sharp contrast with the example quoted by the appellant in which the priest of a Hindu temple is getting a paltry Rs 2,000 per month from the trust controlling the said temple," Mahurkar added.

"The commission observes that there was a clear attempt to hide the information in the initial period by a play of words which showed complete lack of transparency on the part of the respondent authorities in a case which in turn affects the provisions of the Constitution, and also social harmony and uniform applicability of laws for all religions in keeping with the constitutional direction that citizens of all religions be treated equally," he also said.

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