Plea in SC for appointment of govt nominees in Ayodhya mosque trust

The supposed malpractice, misuse of funds the petition points to is not a new concern

Ayodhya rep reuters Representational image of Ayodhya | Reuters

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, asking for directions to nominate government officers in the Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF).

The IICF, created on July 29, is the body responsible for building the mosque and other public facilities at the five-acre land allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board by the Supreme Court in its decision on the Ayodhya Title Suit.

The petition reads, “It is expected that hundreds of persons will visit at the site of ‘Islamic Trust’ and it will get contributions from within India and also from foreign countries. It is the desire of every Indian that there should be peace and tranquillity in Ayodhya and that there should be proper management of the funds and the property vested in the Islamic trust. It is in public interest that the Central Government and the State Government may have all relevant information about the working of the trust to maintain public order and to ensure that no malpractices take place and the funds are not mis-utilised or misappropriated by any trust.”

The petition draws comparison with the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, the body created vide a government order dated February 2, 2020, to build the Ram temple. The plea reads, “The trust deed provides that there will be one representative each nominated by the Central Government and the State Government and District Collector, District Ayodhya will be ex-officio trustee”. In comparison, the IICF, as per the petition, has “no provision for nominating any officer of the Government like the trust created by Central Government”. It asks for “representation of officers of the Government belonging to Sunni Muslim Community in the Islamic Trust”.

The petition further states, “It is being felt among various residents of Ayodhya that in public interest there should be some representation of Central and State Government nominees in the trust created by U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board. The trust will have contributions from foreign countries also and Ayodhya being sensitive place will require a strict vigilante and supervision to maintain public peace and to control the misuse of funds of the trust. In these circumstances this petition is filed in the larger public interest.”

The petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, which allows for moving the Supreme Court for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

The respondents named in the petition are the Union of India, State of Uttar Pradesh and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board. The IICF has not been named. The petitioners are Shishir Chaturvedi, a Lucknow-based lawyer, and Karunesh Kumar Shukla, whose occupation is listed as ‘a Naga sadhu of Hanuman Garhi’.

Syed Shoeb, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, said, “We are studying the petition and will file our response accordingly”.

It is noteworthy that the CEO of the board is a government appointee and is ex-officio founder trustee of the IICF.

Athar Husain, the spokesperson of the IICF, said, “Let the law take its own course. The petition does not stand on the ground that there is no government representation in the Foundation, as the founder trustee is a government appointee”.

The petition also states, “It has come to the knowledge that contributions from foreign countries are being given to the Islamic Trust”. The IICF is still in the process of opening its bank account and thus no donations have been received as yet.

The supposed malpractice and misuse of funds that the petition points to is not a new concern, but has been floating around since the Supreme Court verdict. Some members of the board and the trust attribute it to malicious intents.

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