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Kolkata, May 4, 2012 (Hindu Existence News): The Calcutta High Court refused to stay the payment of honorarium by the West Bengal government to Imams till the suit is pending in the court on Friday, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by (i) West Bengal BJP (Case No.WP 358 of 2012 -Original side), (ii) Acahrya Yogesh Shastri, Arya Samaj, Bengal (Case No. W.P. 9163 of 2012 – Appellate Side) & (iii) another party. The PIL challenges the honorarium on the ground of a Supreme Court directive which states that salary to an Imam can be paid only from the state Wakf board fund. “Although the court refused to stay the payment of honorarium, it asked the state government to give an affidavit to take the responsibility of recovering the amount so paid if the honorarium is held unconstitutional by the court,” Bharatiya Janata Party counsel Kaushik Chandra said.
Mr. Asish Sanyal, senior counsel for Arya Samaj petitioner vehemently opposed the communal approach of West Bengal Govt only to favour the Muslim Imams by giving the monthly honorarium by spending the Govt. exchequers collected from all mainly from Hindus. He said that in name sake this Govt includes Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christians, Zoroastrian (Persi) in the cluster of West Bengal minority community, but the state only giving the monthly to Muslim Imams. He also narrated it ‘Vote for Cash’ policy by the West Bengal Ruling Party while it was highlighted in the Indian Parliament as ‘Cash for Vote’.
Renowned Hindu Rights Activist Brahamchari Upananda said to Hindu Existence correspondent that this Govt. in West Bengal wants to bid a farewell to the democratic and secular system in the name of welfare of Muslim minorities. He is apparently found dissatisfied by not getting the stay on Honorarium of Imams as the State is failure to provide basic amenities to the poorest of the poor, but spending huge amount of money for Muslim Vote Bank.
The division bench of Chief Justice J.N. Patel and justice Sambuddha Chakrabarty has also ordered the disbursing authority to inform the Imams that the honorarium will be paid subject to the decision of the court. “If the verdict goes against them, they shall be liable to refund the money paid to them,” added Chandra. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday announced her government’s plan to pay a monthly honorarium of Rs.2,500 to around 30,000 Imams in the state.
The Court directed the state to file the affidavit by 15th May; reply to that affidavit by the partitioner by 1st June and fixed the haring for the concerned all the cases against giving the honorarium of Imam on 8th June, 2012 accordingly.
Refusing to pass a stay order on the notification no 220/SMAME/L/12 dated 09.04.2012, 222/SMAME/L/12 dated 09.04.2012 and 232/SMAME/L/12 dated 11/04/2012 issued by the state government to pay honorarium to imams, the Calcutta High Court today said the amount to be paid to the imams, if at all, would be decided according to the final verdict of the writ petition.
The Division Bench wanted to know from the Advocate General, Sri Anindya Mitra, if any amount has been paid to the imams or not and how would the state government and the Wakf Board realize the money in case of an adverse verdict.
Mitra submitted that the money would be realised from the imams by the administrative procedure if the High Court turn downs the notification.
After hearing the arguments of both sides, the Division Bench directed the governments to file an affidavit on the petitions within two weeks.
The writ petitions claimed that the notification was unconstitutionals and it should be cancelled by the High Court.
The counsels of the petitioner pointed out that the Wakf board has already paid honorarium to a few imams even when the case is pending in the High Court.
During the hearing it was revealed that the Wakf Board has already paid honorarium to 12 imams from its own fund and not from the budgetary allocation. Ashoke Banerjee, counsel of the Wakf Board, said the application of the imams were under process and the fund allocated by the state government in the budget has not been utilised for such purpose yet.
Hundreds of supporters of BJP and Arya Samaj were present in the 1st Court to hear the arguments of the concerned parties before the division Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr J. N. Patel and Mr. Sambuddha Chakroborty (J), expecting a stay over the communal approach of the State Govt of West Bengal in giving more and more sops to Muslim community keeping the eyes on upcoming Panchayet Election in Bengal.