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‘Why pay pensions to madrassa teachers?’; High Court to Government

The Kerala High Court has sought an explanation from the state government regarding the payment to the Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund. The court also asked why the government was paying for religious activities. The court was hearing a petition seeking cancellation of the 2019 Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund. Manoj, a native of Vazhakulam, had approached the High Court on behalf of the Citizens’ Organization for Democracy Equality and Secularism.

The organization went to court against the Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund Act, which was brought to provide pension and benefits to madrassa teachers. The government passed the ordinance on August 31, 2018. The petitioners contend that it did not reach the Assembly on time. The organization therefore asked the court to repeal the law as soon as possible.

The Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund Board was set up under this Act passed by the Government. Madrasa teachers between the ages of 18 and 55 were required to become members of the board. The petitioners told the court that the ordinance, which was not even tabled in the Assembly on time, and the Welfare Fund Board thus established were obsolete.

The petitioners pointed out before the court that the madrassa teachers only teach religious matters. Madrasas teach Islamic texts, including the Qur’an. The petitioners contended that spending public money on this was unconstitutional. The bench comprising Justices Mohammad Mushtaq and Kauser Edappagath observed that the madrassas in Kerala were not functioning like the madrassas in Uttar Pradesh or Bengal. There are religious teachings as well as others. The court asked why the government gives pensions to teachers when other subjects are not taught in madrassas in Kerala.

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