New Delhi, Nov 21:
The Delhi High Court Friday refused to stay the anointment ceremony of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam’s son as the Naib Imam (deputy Imam) saying the ceremony had no legal sanctity.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw said the anointment ceremony has no legal position, as informed by the Centre and the Delhi Waqf Board, so it can’t stay the ceremony.
The central government and the Waqf Board told the court that the anointment of Naib Imam was “illegal” and had no legal sanctity.
“We are of the opinion that in the face of the contentions of the petitioners that Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari (Shahi Iman) has no right in law or otherwise to anoint his son as the Naib Imam and which is supported by the Delhi Waqf Board, the anointment ceremony (dastarbandi) scheduled Nov 22, 2014, even if not stayed, would not amount to anointment of the son of Bukhari as the Naib Imam of the Jama Masjid. We, therefore, do not feel any need to pass any interim order restraining the same,” said the court in its order.
It also questioned as to why the Waqf Board has left the entire management of the Jama Masjid to Bukhari and why it has not supervised the mosque. It also asked the board why it had allowed Bukhari to appropriate all earnings from the masjid. The court also issued notice to the Centre, the Delhi Waqf Board and the Shahi Imam, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), DDA, MCD, Delhi police and CBI and sought their response by Jan 28.
The court made it clear that the anointment ceremony of the youngest son of Bukhari as the Naib Imam of the Jama Masjid shall be subject to further orders in this case.
The court was hearing three public interest litigations (PILs) that said Jama Masjid is the property of the Delhi Waqf Board and Bukhari as its employee cannot appoint his son as Naib Imam.
The ASI and central government have told the court that Jama Masjid is a historical monument and it has to be decided how rule of primogeniture will apply on succession of Imam or chief cleric.
The PILs said Bukhari’s decision to anoint his 19-year-old son Shaban Bukhari as the Naib Imam was wrong as there was no provision under the Waqf Act for hereditary appointment of the Imam.
“Despite knowing that the Imam is an employee of the Waqf Board and it is the board which has the right to appoint an Imam, he (Bukhari) has declared his 19-year-old son to be a Naib Imam and is holding a dastarbandi ceremony for the purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic,” the pleas said.
Meanwhile, another bench of the court, of Justice S.P. Garg, heard another petition which was filed by Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, who claims to be seventh generation great-grand son of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, challenging the ceremony. Justice Garg refused to pass any order as the Chief Justice bench has passed an order on similar pleas and posted the case for Jan 29.
“Imam is not hereditary and it is nowhere written in any Islamic literature or the holy book Quran that Shahi Imam is a hereditary post and that only a son of the Imam can be the next Imam. Imams of all the mosques… under Delhi Wakf Board are appointed by it only and are paid salaries,” the petition stated.
Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque built during the Mughal era.
The three PILs asked the court to declare invalid the appointment of Bukhari as the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid. The PILs also alleged that there is “complete anarchy and misuse of power” by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid.
Bukhari recently sparked off a controversy by announcing that he had invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the ceremony of anointing his son as the deputy Imam but did not feel the need to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.