Srinagar: The J&K and Ladakh High Court on Wednesday granted four weeks more time to J&K government for its response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking introduction of Islamic Banking in Jammu and Kashmir. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and J&K Bank have already file response to the PIL. Union Finance Ministry has submitted that the counter affidavit of Reserve Bank of India would “suffice the purpose on its behalf.”
A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey Sanjay Dhar granted J&K government four weeks time after Additional Advocate General M. A. Chashoo sought the same. The court has now posted the PIL, filed by an NGO J&K Peoples Forum in 2018, for further condition on December 8.
In last week of August this year, the court had give “last opportunity” of one month to the government for filing the response, observing that despite time allowed on 26 March 2021 to the government, the counter affidavit has not been filed till date.
The petitioner seeking directions to union finance ministry for issuing necessary notification for the introduction of Sharia compliant windows (Islamic banking) as recommended by Deepak Mohanty Committee as well as in the light of a report of the inter-departmental group of RBI.
The Forum also seeks direction to RBI for taking immediate steps in the constituent banks including the J&K Bank so as to facilitate Shariah compliant windows.
The Forum wants J&K Bank Limited to place before the court entire details of Non Performing Accounts (NPAs) and the steps taken for recovery of the outstanding amount in NPAs, saying the same is public money which cannot be allowed to be misappropriated either by the account holders or by the management of the bank.
The Forum also seeks direction to J&K Bank to take immediate steps for opening of Shariah compliant windows to accomplish the object of mass level participation in Shariah Banking. The petitioner submits that “majority of the citizens in Jammu and Kashmir are Muslims by faith and thus have a constitutional right to enjoy all avenues of development provided the same do not contravene the article of their faith”. The petitioner has cited the Holy Quran as well as commandments of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prohibiting interest. “It is of common knowledge that receiving and giving of interest (Riba in Quranic parlance) besides being prohibited for Muslims is widely disliked by other faiths as well,” the Forum said.
“In Hinduism it is said that Brahmana and a Kshatriya shall not lend anything at interest.” The Forum submits that even the United Nations has acknowledged the role of Zakat in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“The United Nations Organization set up an Millennium Development Goals in 2000 and laid down the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) blueprint and the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expiring at the end of the year 2015- are composed of 17 goals and 169 targets. The said programme was renewed for another 15 years in 2015. Among other goals to achieve the sustainable development, United Nations Development programme has identified that Zakat as main factor for achieving the goal”, reads the PIL.