Activists in Hyderabad have urged the Hyderabad High Court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Telangana government stating that the annual iftar dinner to be held in the city on June 8 was a ‘misuse of public funds’.
Last year, activists had moved the court after it was learnt that funds from the Minority Welfare Department, meant for poor minorities, was being used to throw a lavish party for the elite.
Dr Lubna Sarwath, General Secretary of the Telangana unit of the Socialist Party (India), said that the issue was brought up in front of the Chief Justice this week.
“While the Chief Justice declined to hear the case and stay the extravagant iftar, he informed the petitioner’s advocate that he would hear the matter and order the recovery of funds if he was convinced that funds have been illegally spent,” Dr Lubna said.
“We are appealing to the conscience of religious leaders, politicians, bureaucrats and citizens from all walks of life to boycott the iftar being hosted on June 8 by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who also holds the Minority Welfare Ministry portfolio from 2014,” she added.
Speaking to reporters last week, Deputy Chief Minister Mahmood Ali said that 7,000 guests were expected to turn up at Fateh Maidan, where the event will be held, out of which 1,000 will be accommodated in the VIP lounge.
The Deputy CM also said that clothes would be distributed to 12 lakh people across the state, with 400 masjids under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and 400 masjids in the districts hosting a dinner on the same day.
“The people of Telangana should decide if they approve such ridiculous spending from tax payers’ money. The government’s money is only and only for the welfare of the public without distinction or discrimination of religion, caste, gender, etc,” Dr Lubna said.
In a HC order dated June 16, 2017, the state had given an undertaking to the court that the dinner was not being hosted using the funds of the Minority Welfare Department and it would ensure that the iftar and clothes at the masjids was being given to the ‘poorest of poor’.
It also asked for a list to be compiled with names and how it was ensured that only the destitute, widows, elderly, orphans and poor received the funds. This list was to be submitted to the High Court within 3 weeks.
However, Dr Lubna alleged, “The state is yet to make that list public and a subsequent RTI that was filed had uncovered that the iftar dinner at Fateh Maidan was indeed from funds meant for minority welfare.”