Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar has also issued notices to officers of the Delhi Waqf Board on the plea of activist Subhash Agrawal.
Agrawal wanted complete information, including the file notes, on the decision to pay salaries to Imams in Delhi mosques through his application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
He sought to know the total number of mosques in the national capital where Imams receive salaries, the total amount incurred, annual expenditure, and details of the competent authority responsible for the payments.
Through his RTI application, Agrawal also asked if such salaries are being paid to priests of Hindu temples as well.
The offices of the LG and the chief minister did not respond to the RTI application, but the office of the chief secretary transferred it to the Department of Revenue and Delhi Waqf Board.
The Delhi Waqf Board, in its reply to Agrawal, said none of the queries are related to it.
The commissioner has also issued notices to the Public Information Officers of these two departments asking them to appear before it for hearing on November 18.
The CIC has asked the officers to bring all the files related to the matter for hearing.
The Supreme Court in 1993 had ordered the Waqf Boards to pay adequate salaries to Imams working in mosques managed by the boards.
“We are, therefore, not willing to accept the submission that…in the absence of any statutory provision in the Waqf Act the Imams who look after religious activities of mosques are not entitled to any remuneration,” the Bench of Justice R M Sahai had held on a petition by All India Imam Organisation which had approached the apex court for “enforcement of fundamental right against their exploitation by Waqf Boards.”
The organisation had approached the apex court seeking a direction to Central and State Waqf Boards to treat them as employees of the Board and to pay them basic wages to enable them to survive.
Waqf Boards in several states, including Haryana, Karnataka, and Delhi, are following the practice of paying salaries to Imams.