Convene Board Meeting for Payment of Salary to Employees: HC directs Delhi Waqf Board CEO

The Delhi High Court has directed the CEO of Delhi Waqf Board to convene a meeting of the board within one month for raising funds and clearing the outstanding salary of its employees for the last several months.

Dealing with a petition by the Delhi Waqf Board employees for payment of outstanding dues, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh also directed the board members to attend, partake and cooperate in the meeting.

The petitioner association along with an individual employee had moved the court earlier this year, claiming they had not received their salaries since October last year and were facing “unfathomable financial hardships”.

“The CEO, Delhi Waqf Board is directed to convene the Meeting of the Board within one month for the purposes of raising funds and clearing the outstanding dues of the petitioners. The Members of the Board shall also attend, partake and cooperate in the said Meeting,” said the court in its order dated July 11.

CEO Rehan Raza, who was present during the hearing, assured the court a meeting of the Board will be convened in the near future.

On June 1, the high court had ordered his presence before it to explain the non-payment of salaries to the employees for nearly nine months in spite of a direction by the court.

During the hearing, the chairperson of the Delhi Waqf Board submitted funds required for clearing the outstanding dues have not been raised as the meeting of the Board has not been convened.

The court was informed that the power to convene such a meeting rested with the CEO.

Advocate M Sufian Siddiqui, appearing for the petitioners, argued the CEO has not made any effort to convene the meeting and to augment funds to ensure strict compliance with earlier court orders for payment of salaries.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 22 and asked the Board CEO to remain present on that date.

On June 1, the high court had said the petition of the Delhi Waqf Board employees “depicts a very sorry state of affairs as admittedly the employees have not received their salaries for nearly nine months” and the authorities were “totally insensitive” to the plight of the employees who were finding it difficult to make two ends meet.

Prima facie, the court had observed, there was scant regard for court orders as despite there being an assurance, there was no certainty as to when salaries will be paid. It had deplored the “usual and casual response” that the matter was under consideration and there was a lack of funds.

On March 27, the court had directed the respondents- the city government and Delhi Waqf Board authorities- to clear the outstanding salaries of the employees within two weeks.

Siddiqui, appearing for the petitioners, had said the employees have been robbed of their right to a dignified life in a brazen infraction of their fundamental and constitutional rights.

“The employees of Delhi Waqf Board falling in Category I (Permanent employees recruited against the sanctioned post), II (Permanent employees whose recruitment is approved by the Divisional Commissioner), III (Employees who were recruited on contractual basis but are waiting for their absorption) and IV (Contractual employees who continue to be contractual) have not received their salary from October 2022,” the petition has said.

It submitted that the “entire functioning of the board has collapsed” and its staff “has been in a grim situation because of unresolved issues”.

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“The functioning of the Delhi Waqf Board has come to a standstill as its business is to be transacted at its meetings. Staggeringly, after 05.01.2022 no meeting of the members of the Board has taken place. Hence, as a necessary corollary, the Board has not been able to meet and transact its business, as such, revenue generation of the Delhi Waqf Board has taken a blow,” the petition said.

“The budget of the Delhi Waqf Board is also not prepared and forwarded to the State Government in a timely manner as required by the Waqf Act, 1995 and the Delhi Wakf Rules, 1997, which has caused inordinate delay in sending requisition for the Grant in Aid to the Delhi Government for first quarter of Financial Year 2022-2023. Furthermore, there are delays on the part of the Government of NCT of Delhi also in releasing the Grant in Aid,” it has added.

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