Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Government and Imams

On 21/8/2010 in Lok Sabha there was a demand from Laloo Prasad Yadav and some MPs that the government pay salaries to imams of government-aided mosques on the basis of Supreme Court verdict in 1993. It is not known how this verdict came about. Laloo Prasad Yadav did not raise the issue when he was Railway Minister and member of UPA. Bihar elections are coming near and that may be the reason for raising the issue.

It is not for the government to give aid to mosques or pay salary to imams. Religious leaders should be supported by their respective communities. If imams are paid salaries by the government there will be demand for payment of salaries to priests of Hindu temples. Other communities may also demand similar treatment.

If a mosque is owned by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and an imam voluntarily serves there or allowed to serve there he is not entitled to salary. ASI owns some mosques due to their historical importance. They are generally parts of tourist places.

Suitable law must be passed and steps be taken so that the government does not aid mosques and pay salaries to imams. Options of review and petitions should be considered.

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