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India: Muslim leaders irked with high court order on imams

4th Sep 2013

Kolkata, (Hindustan Times): Muslim leaders expressed unhappiness over the high court order that ruled monthly honorariums for imams and muezzins across the state as ‘unconstitutional’.

Terming the court order as unfortunate, many minority groups even threatened to move the Supreme Court.

While the All-India Minority Forum (AIMF) and All-Bengal Minority Youth Forum (ABMYF) decided to approach the apex court, other influential community leaders such as Siddiqullah Chowdhury, state president of All-India United Democratic Front and Qari Fazlur Rehman, who heads the largest Id congregation on Red Road blamed the state government for the fiasco.

“If the government wants, it can bypass the court order and provide allowances in some other way. But the government should have concentrated on the overall socio-economic development of the minority community instead of doling out monthly honorariums to only imams and muezzins. We fear the state government might stop providing the allowances in this pretext, citing the high court ruling,” Chowdhury said.

On Monday, the high court quashed the state’s decision to pay Rs. 2,500 every month to imams and Rs. 1,000 to muezzins, terming such payment as illegal and irregular.

The court also observed that state executives squandered public money by releasing funds to the Wakf Board. The court declared the government decision as violating Article 166 of the Constitution.

“The government should not have made the announcement of providing honorariums if it is unconstitutional. The court ruling is an insult to imams and their honour has been hurt. The state is at fault. It should have taken proper legal advice before going ahead with its decision. Even now, they should challenge the ruling and take proper legal recourse so that imams and muezzins are benefited,” Rehman remarked.

AIMF chairman Idris Ali, who also heads the Trinamool Congress minority cell, termed the high court order unfortunate and decided to approach the Supreme Court.

ABMYF secretary Mohammad Kamruzzaman also threatened to approach the apex court and said the state government could have defended itself better in court.

“The government failed to defend the decision in court. It could also have disbursed the honorarium in a more methodical way so as not to attract the ire of the court,” Kamruzzaman said.


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