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Muslim clerics oppose RTE, DTC
July, 30th 2011

A slew of recent governance initiatives, including the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the Direct Tax Code (DTC), have irked the Muslims, who perceive it as an encroachment on the community's fundamental rights.

The newly-appointed Mohtamim of Deoband's Darul Uloom Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani lambasted the RTE as a violation of the community's fundamental right to dispense a sound religious education to their children.

"When RTE was in its final stages, HRD minister Kapil Sibal had assured us that minority institutions would be kept out of it. But that hasn't happened. There are hundreds of small religious institutions that function out of mosques and one-room tenements for whom it would be impossible to meet regulations like teacher-student ratio and conveyance for students as specified in the RTE. Hence, these institutions will go out of business, depriving lakhs of our children of religious education," Nomani told TOI.

Describing this as a second attempt in recent years by government to launch an attack on madarsas, Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid said, "It's good that the government wants every child to be in school, but where does that leave the child with time to go to madarsas, where he is receiving religious education? I agree with the educationists, who are opposing this move because it's not possible for the child to go to school in the morning, finish his homework during the day, and then go to madarsa in the evening."

The earlier takeover attempt, he cited, was the government proposal to give aid to madarsas on the basis of the number of students they had on their rolls along with employees' strength.

A recent meeting of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) discussed the implications of both the RTE and the DTC on religious, charitable and educational institutions run by the community. The DTC proposal to bring charitable institutions under its ambit and to levy a 15% income tax on all the accumulated funds of an organization has raised the community's hackles. The AIMPLB feels that the move would be a deterrent to the functioning of not just Muslim institutions, but all minority-run ones.

AIMPLB member Kamaal Farooqui said: "We have taken a strong exception to this because under this even Wakf would be covered. Charitable institutions may not spend all their income during a financial year, but whenever they do that's done only for charitable purposes. Charging tax will essentially deprive the needy, who benefit from these services. This isn't acceptable, and the Board is speaking out in favour of all minority-run institutions."

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