AIR 1993 SUPREME COURT 2086
K. RAMASWAMY AND R.M. SAHAI. JJ.
No. 715 of 1990, Dt.-13-5-1993.
All India Imam Organisation and
others, Petitioners, v. Union of India and others, Respondents.
of India, Acts. 32,21 - Right to live - Imams, " In charge of religious activities
of mosque" - Are entitled to emolument even in absence of statutory provision
in Wakf Act - Supreme Court directed the Govt. and Central Wakf Board to prepare
Scheme within period of six months.
"Imam" - Is entitled to
emoluments even in absence of provisions under Wakf Act.
Muslim Law -
Imam - Entitled to emoluments even in the absence of statutory provision.
The objective and purpose of every mosque being community worship and it being
the obligation of Board under the Act to ensure that the objectives of the Wakf
is carried on, Board can not escape from its responsibility for proper maintenance
of religious service in a mosque. To say, therefore, that the Board has no control
over the mosque or Imam is not correct. In the absence of any provision in the
Act or the rules providing for appointment of Imam or laying down condition of
their service is probable because they are not considered as employees. At the
same time, it cannot be disputed that due to change in social and economic set-up
they too need sustenance. Nature of their job is such that they may be required
to be present in the mosque nearly for the whole day. There may be some who may
perform the duty as part of their religious observance. Still others may be ordained
by the community to do so. But there are large number of such persons who have
no other occupation or profession or service for their livelihood except doing
duty as Imam. What should be thier fate? Should they be paid any remuneration
and if so how much and by whom? According to the Board they are appointed by the
mutawallis and, therefore, any payment by the Board was out of question. Prima
facie it is not correct as the letter of appointments issued in some States are
from the Board. But assuming that they are appointed by the Mutawallis as the
Mutawallis too u/s 36 of the Act are under the supervision and control of the
Board. The right to life enshrined in Art. 21 means right to live with human dignity.
It is too late in the day, therefore, to claim or urge that since Imams perform
religious duties they are not entitled to any emoluments. Whatever may have been
the ancient concept but it has undergone change and even in the Muslim countries
mosques are subsidised and the Imams are paid their, remuneration.. Therefore,
it can not be said that in our set up or in absence of any statutory provision
in the Wakf Act the Imams who look after the religious activities of mosques are
not entitled to any remuneration. Financial difficulties of the institution can
not be above fundamental right of a citizen. If the Boards have been entrusted
with the responsibility of supervising and administering the Wakf then it is their
duty to harness resources to pay those persons who perform the most important
duty namely of leading community prayer in a mosque the very purpose for which
it is created.
In the circumstances the Supreme Court issued the directions
to the Union of India and the Central Wakf Board to prepare a Scheme within a
period of six months in respect of different types of mosques. Mr. Gobinda Mukhoty,
Mr. R.K. Jain, Mr. Yusuf H. Machhale, Ms. K. Amreswari (N.R) Mr. R.N. Sachthey,
Mr. N.N. Goswamy ad Mr. B.K. Prasad, (N.P.), Ms. Anil Katiyar, Ms. Niranjana Singh,
Mr. Nafis Ahmad Siddiqui, Mr. Asgar Ali Khan, Mr. A.S. Bhasme, Mr. E.M.S. Anam,
Mr. Shakil Ahmad Syed. Mr. Anil K. Jha, Mr. RajKumar Mehta, Mr. S.K. Agnihotri,
Mr. B.R. Jad, Mr. Anip Sachthey, Mr.M. Mohan Pandey, Mr. M Veerappaa, Mr. K.H.Nobin
Singh, Mr. S.K. Melita, Mr. Dhruv Mehta, Mr. Aman Vachher, Mr. RK. Manohar, Mr.
B.B. Singh, Mr. Aruneshwar Gupta and Mr. R. Mohan, Advocate with them, appearing
for the parties.
R.M. Sahai J., Imams, ' incharge of religious activities
of the mosque'(1) have approached this Court by way of this, representative petition
under Article 32 of the constitution for enforcement of fundamental right against
their exploitation by Wakf Board. Relief sought is direction to Central and State
Wakf Boards to treat the petitioner as employees of the Board and to pay them
basic wages to enable them to survive. Basis of claim is glaring disparity between
the nature of work and amount of remuneration. Higher pay scale is claimed for
2. Imams perform the duty of offering prayer (Namaz) for
congregation in mosques. Essentially the mosque is a centre of community worship
where Muslims perform ritual prayer and where historically they also gathered
for political, social and cultural functions. (2) The functions of the mosque
is summarised by the 13th Century Jurist Ibn Taymiyah as a place of gathering
where prayer was celebrated and where public affairs were conducted, (3) All mosques
are where Muslims men on an equalitarian basis rich or poor, noble or humble,
stand in rows to perform their prayers behind the Imam, (4) Imams are expected
to look after the cleanliness of mosque, call Azans from the balcony of the minarets
to the whole religious meetings and propagate the Islamic faith. They are expected
to be well versed in the Shariat, the holy Quran, the Hadiths, ethics, philosophy,
social, economic and religious aspects. Imam or prayer leader is the most important
appointee. In the early days the ruler himself filled this role; he was leader
(Imam) of the government of war, and of the common Salat ("ritual prayer").
Under the Abbasids, when the caliph no longer conducted prayer on a regular basis,
a paid Imam was appointed. While any prominent or learned Muslim can have the
honour of leading payers, each mosque specifically appoints a man well versed
in the logical matters to act as its Imam. He is in charge of the religious activities
of the mosque, and it is his duty to conduct prayers five times a day in front
of Mihrab. (5).
3. On nature of the duties performed by the Imams there
is no dispute. But both the Union of India and various State Wakf boards of different
States which have put in appearance in response to the notice issued by this Court
have seriously disputed the manner of their appointment, right to receive any
payment and absence of any relationship of master and servant. lt is stated that
the Imams or Muazzins are appointed by the Mutwallis. According to them the Wakf
Board have nothing to do either with their appointment or working. It is claimed
that under Islamic emoluments as a matter of right as the Islamic law ordains
the Imams to offer voluntary service. They are said to be paid some money out
of the donations received in mosques or by the Mutwallis of the Boards. Their
job is stated to be honorary and not paid. Nature of duty under Islamic Shariat
is stated to lead prayers which is performed voluntarily by any suitable Muslim
without any monetary benefit. Some of the affidavits claim that they are appointed
by people of the locality. The Union Government has specifically stated that Islam
does not recognise the concept of priesthood as in other religions and the selection
of Imams is the sole prerogative of the members of the local community or the
managing committee, if any, of the mosque. According to Karnataka Wakf Board Imamat
in the mosque is not considered to be employment. The allegation of the petitioners
that due to meagre payment they are humiliated or insulted in the society, is
denied and it is claimed that they are respectable persons who carry on the duty
of Imamat as a part of religious activity and not for earning bread and butter.The
Delhi Wakf Board pointed out that the honorarium is paid to
(5) The Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. 10. 121-122
an Imam as a consideration
for his five time presence in the mosque regularly and punctually. The Board has
denied any right to exercise an authority over the mosque where Imams and Muazzins
are appointed by the Mutawallis or by the managing committees. It is stated that
holding of a certificate from a registered institution to enable a person to lead
the prayer is not necessary as the only requirement for being an Imam under the
Shariat is to have a thorough knowledge of the holy Quran and the rites, rules
and obligation required for offering prayers according to the principles laid
down by the Ouran and Sunnah.The affidavit filed on behalf of Wakf Board has pointed
out that mosque can be categorised in five categories. One, which are under direct
control or management of the Government such as Mecca Masjid or the mosque situated
in public garden which are not governed or regulated by the MuslimWakf Board.
Second, mosques which are under the direct management of Wakf Board. Third, mosques
which are under the control of mutawallis under various Wakf Boards. According
to the wishes of the Wakf as the creator of the ***. Fourth, mosque which are
not registered with the Wakf Board and are managed by local inhabitants and are
under the management of the public who offer prayers regularly in a particular
mosque; and Fifth, mosques which are not managed by mutwallis or the Muslims of
the locality. It is claimed that Imams of fourth and fifth category are not regular
and any Muslim can lead the prayers, whereas under the third category mosques
are having regular Imams. Financial difficulty of the Wakf Board to meet the demand
has also been pointed out. The Pondichery Wakf Board has pointed that there is
not even one employee except a peon working there and, therefore, it is not possible
to meet the demand of the Imam. It is also claimed that the Board has no control
over the pesh-Imams as they are considered to be well dignified personality of
the society and they are given due respect by the Muslim community as a whole.
In the counter-affidavit filed by the PunjabWakf Board it has been stated that
Imams of mosques in Punjab were being paid on the basis of their qualification.
Imams Nazara (Mubtaii grade) are in the scale of Rs. 380-20-580-25-830-30-980,
where as Imams Hafiz (Wasti grade) are paid Rs. 445-20-720-25-970-30-1120. They
are also paid Rs. 30/- per month medical allowance and Muazzins are paid Rs. 310/-
per month.These scales were revised in 1992. According to them Imams of all the
mosques in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh which come under the PunjabWakf
Board are being paid regularly and they are treated as regular employees. The
sunni, Central Wakf Board of Uttar Pradesh filed only a written submission stating
that all the sunni mosques were managed by mutwallis of the concerned managing
committees and not by the Wakf Board.
4. The mosque differs from a church
or a temple in many respects. 'Ceremonies and service connected with marriages
and birth are never performed in mosques.The rites that are important and integral
functions of many churches such as confession, penitence and confirmations do
not exist in the mosques.(6) Nor any offerings are made as is common in Hindu
temples. Ministry of Wakf (Endowments) appoints the servant, preachers and readers
of the Ouran. Mosques in non-muslim countries are subsidised by individuals. They
are administered by their founder or by their special fund. A caretaker is appointed
to keep the place clean. The Muazzin calls to prayer five times a day fom the
minaret (7) In ourcountry in l954 Wakf Act waspassed by the Parliament for better
administration and supervision of Wakfs. To achieve the objective of the Act Section
9 provides for establishment of a Wakf Board. The functions of which are detailed
in Section 15. Sub-section (1 ) of it reads as under:
to any rules that may be made under this Act,, the (general superintendence of
all wakfs in a State in relation of all matters except those which are expressly
required by this Act to be dealt with by the Wakf Commissioner, shall vest in
the board established for the State; and it shall be the duty of the Board so
to exercies its powers under this Act as to ensure that the Wakfs under its supreintendence
are properly maintained, controlled and administered and the income thereof is
duly applied to the object and for the purposes for which such wakfs were created
Provided that in exercising its power under this Act in respect
of any wakf, the Board shall act in conformity with the directions of the wakf,
the purposes of the wakf and any usage or custom of the wakf sanctioned by the
5. The Board is vested not only with supervisory and
administrative powers over the wakfs but even the financial power vests in it.
One of its primary duties is to ensure that the income from the wakf is spent
on carrying out the purposes for which wakf was created.
Mosques are wakf
and are required to be registered under the Act over which the Board exercises
control. Purposes of their creation is community worship. Namaz or Salat is the
mandatory practice observed in every mosque '( Among the Five Pillars (arkan;
eg; rukn) of Islam, it holds the second most important position, immediately after
the declaration of faith (shahadah).
(6) to (7) The Encvciopedia of
Britannica Vol. 18 p. 883
(8). The principal functionary to undertake
it is the Imam. The objective and purpose of every mosque being community worship
and it being the obligation of Board under the Act to ensure that the objective
of the wakf is carried on the Board cannot escape from its responsibility for
proper maintenance of religious service in a mosque.To say, therefore , that the
board has no control over the mosque or Imam is not correct. Absence of any provision
in the Act or the rules providing for appointment of Imam or laying down condition
of their service is probably because they are not considered as employees. At
the same time it can not be disputed that due to change in social and economic
set-up they too need sustenance. Nature of their job is such that they may be
required to be present in the mosque nearly for the whole day. There may be some
who may perform the duty as part of their religious observance. Still other may
be ordained by the community to do so. But there are large number of such persons
who have no other occupation or profession or service for their livelihood except
doing duty as Imam. What should be their fate? Should they be paid any remuneration
and if so how much and by whom? According to the Board they are appointed by the
mutawallis and, therefore, any payment by the board was out of question. Prima
facie it is not correct as the letter of appointements issued in some states are
from tile Board. But assuming that they are appointed by the Mutawallis the Board
can not escape from its responsibility as the mutawallisltoo u/S. 36 of the Act
are under the supervision and control of the Board@ In a series of decisions rendered
by this Court it has been held that right to life enshrined in Article 91 means
right to live with human dignity. It is too late in the day, therefore, to claim
or urge that since lmams perform religious duties they are not entitled to any
emoluments Whatever may have been the ancient concept but it has under gone change
and even@in Muslim countries Mosques are subsidised and lmams are paid their remuneration.
We are, therefore, not willing to accept the submission that in our set up or
in absence of any statutory provision in the Wakf Act the imams who look after
the religious activities of mosques are not entitled to any remuneration. Much
ws argued on behalf of Union and the wakf Boards that their financial position
was not such that they can meet the obligations of paying the lmams as they are
being paid in the State if Punjab. It was also urged that the number of Mosques
is so large that it would entail heavy expenditure which the boards of different
States w1ould not be able to bear. We do not find any correlation between the
two. Financial difficulties of the institution can not be above fundamental right
of a cftizen. If the boards have been entrusted with the responsibility of supervising
and administering tewakf then it is their duty to harness resources to pay those
persons who perform the most important duty
(8) The Encyclopedia of
Religion Vol. 13. 20-21
namely of leading community prayer in a Mosque
the very purpose for which it is created.
6. In the circumstances we allow
this petit.ion and issue following direction:
(i) The Union of India and
the Central Wdkf Board will prepare a scheme within a period of six months in
respect of different types of mosques, some detail of which has been furnished
in the counter affidavit filed by the Delhi Wakf Board.
(ii) Mosques which
are under control of the government shall not be governed by this order. But if
their lmams are not paid any remuneration and they have no independent income.
The Government may fix their emoluments on the basis as the Central Wakf Board
may do for other mosques in pursuance of our order.
(iii) For other mosques,
except those which are not registered with the Board of their respective States
or which are not manned by members of Islamic faith the scheme shall provide for
payment of remuneration of such lmams taking guidance from the scale of pay prevalent
in the State of Punjab and Haryana.
(iv) The State Boards shall ascertain
income of each mosque the numberand nature of Imams required by it namelyfulitime
(v) For the full time Punjab Wakf Board may be treated as
guideline. That shall also furnish guideline for payment to part time lmam.
(vi) In all those mosques where full time lmams are working they shall be paid
the remuneration determined in pursuance of this order.
(vii) Part time
and honorary lmam shall be. paid such remuneration and allowance as is determined
under the scheme.
(viii) The scheme shall also take into account those
mosques which are small or are in the rural area or are such as mentioned in the
affidavit of Pondichery Board and have no source of income and find out ways and
means to raise its income.
(ix) The exercise should be completed and the
Scheme be enforced within six months.
(x) Our order for payment to lmams
shall come into operation from lst Dec. 1993. In case the scheme is not prepared
within the time allowed then it shall operate retrospectively from lst Dec. 1993.
(xi) The scheme framed by the Central Wakf Board shall be implemented
by every State Board.
7. The writ petition is decided accordingly. Parties
shall bear their own costs.
Whereas the Supreme
Court vied its order of 13th May, 1993, in Writ petition (C) No. 725 of 1990 (All
India lmam Organisation Vs. Union of @india & Others), inter all, directed
the Union of India and Central Wakf Board to prepare a scheme in respect of different
types of mosques for payment of remuneration / emoluments to their lmams.
WHEREAS the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement was discussed at National
Conference of State Government Ministers in charge of Wakf, Members, CentralWakf
Council and representatives of the State Government/ UT Admns. on 15th September,
1993, where as broad understanding was expressed that the matter be deliberated
upon by a Committee. A High Power Committee was there upon constituted under the
chairmanship of Union Welfare Minister which has held five meetings. At the meeting
held on 13th December, 1995, the committee noted the urgency of framing a scheme
in the light of the Supreme Court's order granting extension of time upto 31st
Dec. 1995 only In presence of the recommendations of the High Power Committee
a small Committee under the chairmanship of Shri Asiam Sher Khan, MOS (PMO &W)
has formulated the scheme in terms of the directions given by the Supreme Court
as referred to above.
WHEREAS the aforesaid scheme was approved by the
CentralWa Council at its meeting held on 22.12.1995.
Now therefore, the
scheme formulated pursuant to, and in compliance with the aforesaid directions
of the Hon'bie Supreme Court is as follows
1 . The Scheme shall be called
the scheme for remuneration to lmams and Muazzins 1995.
2. The Scheme
shall come into force on 1 st Dec.1 993.
3. The Scheme shall apply to
the following categories of Mosques
(a) Mosques which are under the direct
management of a board of Wakfs established under the Wakf law for the time being
(b) Mosques which are registered with a Board of Wakfs established
under the wakf law for the time being in force and are under the control / management
of Mutwallis of various wakfs.
Provided that the Scheme shall not apply
to the following categories of Mosques :-
(i) Mosques under the control
or management of the Government except as provided in Pare 7.
which are not registered with the Wakf Board and are managed by local inhabitants.
(iii) Mosques which are not managed either by Mutawailis or the Muslims
of the locality
(iv) Mosques not managed by members of Islamic faith.
Categories of lmams
4. According to nature of duty performed by
them, Imams can be either full time / part time or honorary.
In case of full time lmams, the qualification and the remuneration
shall be on the lines of those adopted by the Punjab and Haryana Wakf Board. The
Punjab and Haryana scheme is in Annexure.
(b) Part time and Honorary 1mams
The payment of remuneration to part time 1mams with comparable qualifications
could be upto a maximum of 50 percent payable to the full time ]mams. The State
Wakf Board shall consider payment of remuneration and allowances to Honorary lmams
(i) lmams who lead only Friday prayers that is once in a weak,
may be ,paid honorarium @ Rs. 50/- per prayer.
(ii) Such Honorary lmams
who lead all the five prayers on a regular basis and are willing to accept may
be paid honorarium @ Rs. 400, Rs. 500. Rs. 600 per month, depending whether they
are Nazara, Hafiz or Alim.
(iii) Such Honorary lmams who do no lead ail
the five prayers regularly may be paid a honorarium @ Rs. 20/- per day irrespective
of the number of prayers they lead.
Provided that the appropriate Board
of Wakf may, in respect of mosque which are small or are in the rural areas for
have no source of income, fix such rates of remuneration for Imams and Muazzins
of such a mosque until that mosque is able to find out ways and means to raise
its income as may be sufficient to pay remuneration at the rate mentioned in (a)
or as the case may be, (b) above. Acceptance of remuneration under the scheme
In all the above mentioned categories ( pares 5(a) and (b) , the acceptance
of the above remuneration will be on voluntary basis.
Mosque under control of Govt.
7. The remuneration suggested in
pare 5 above shall be followed for lmams of Musques under the control of the Government
in cases where they have no independent income.
8. The appropriate Board
of Wakfs may determine quantum of remuneration to various categories,of lmams
taking into account, among others, the following factors:
the mosque is located in urban or rural area.
(b) Existing mode of payment
as also the quantum, if the payment is in kind, whether the same can be quantified.
(c) Qualification of lmams.
(d) Income of the wakf in which the
mosque is comprised.
(e) Income of the wakf in which the mosque is comprised.
(f) Collection/donation made for the lmam.
(g) Grants received
from any source for the purpose.
(h) WhethertheWakf deed provides forspecified
sources of payment to the Imams.
(i) Whether lmam is full-time, part-time
or honorary. Whether Imam has any known source of income.
(k) Any other
factor relevant to the local situation.
9. 11) The responsibility for
implementation of this Scheme shall be on the appropriate Board of Wakfs.
(2) The appropriate Board of Wakfs shall harness necessary resources in accordance
with powers and responsibilities vested with it under the provisions of the Wakf
Law for the time being in force.
Board of Ambala Cant.
Ref No. 135 Ed / C /33/11-598-603 dated 22.1.92
Afterconsidering the representation of the lmams of all the mosques which are
being'managed by the Punjab Wakf Board, the Administrator of the Board has allowed
the increments in salary as follows and this scale comes into force from 1-12-1991.
Scale Medical Allowenced
lmam Alim 1000-1 5-1150-201350-25-1600
Imam Hafiz 950-15-1100-20-1300-25-1550 Rs. 30/-
Nazirah 850-15-1000-20-1200-25-1400 Rs. 30/-
Note (1) Above scale includes dearness and others allowance.
In future, there shall be no increment relating to Dearness and other allowances
and no application in this regard shall be entertained.
Note (2) This
scale would be given to Hafiz only for six months i.e. 31 - 5-92, thereafter this
scale would be given only to persons who have memorised and are able to recite
the entire Holy Book in the Namaz of Taravih during the Holy month of Ramzan.
There fore all the Imams of Hafiz grade are directed to prepare themselves for
the same. The committee appointed by the Board would judge the competence of the
Hafiz and would report to the Board. Copy for information to.
Punjab Wakf Board.
(i) Concerned lmams.
(ii) Concerned Moazzins
(iv) P.A. to secretary
(v) P.A. to Administrator
Officer and state Head Office
(vii) All State offices.