Mamata at the event on Friday. (Sanjoy Ghosh)
Calcutta, Sept. 6: Mamata Banerjee today assured imams and muezzins that the government was by their side and they need not be disheartened by the Calcutta High Court order that struck down as “unconstitutional” the decision to provide a monthly allowance to them.
“The honourable high court has passed an order and we cannot disobey it. But we are with you,” the chief minister said at a programme in Netaji Indoor Stadium where students from the minority community were given loans and scholarships.
“Sarkar jodi ardhek ruti khaye, aapnader keo ardhek ruti debe. Hatash howar kono karon nei (If the government eats half a roti, it will give you half a roti too. There is no reason to be disheartened),” Mamata said. “This is a democratic government. We will find a democratic solution to it,” she added.
The chief minister did not say what she intended to do.
Although the government is yet to decide whether a higher court would be moved against the division bench order, urban development minister Firhad Hakim told The Telegraph that the state had started looking for options to carry on with the allowance.
“The (high court) order says the government cannot pay the allowance but there is no bar on the Board of Waqfs paying any such allowance,” Hakim said.
The Board of Waqfs is the custodian of waqf properties in the state and maintains them. In return, the board collects rent, of which it keeps 7 per cent while the rest goes to mutawallis — caretakers of individual properties.
The board’s main earning is from the government in the form of a budgetary allocation by the minorities affairs department.
If the government gives any financial assistance to the board over and above the budgetary allocation so that the allowance can be given, it could be challenged in court, a government official said.
Hakim said: “We are scrutinising the income and expenditure of the board and trying to assess its capability of paying the allowance from its own coffers. Some of the properties of the board can be developed while those that have been encroached upon will be retrieved to increase the earnings of the board.”
CM tour plan
Mamata would try to “popularise” the savings scheme announced yesterday when she begins her tour of the districts next week, officials said. She will begin by holding rallies in the two Parganas, Howrah and East Midnapore.