HC agrees to hear pleas against Delhi Shahi Imam

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court Wednesday set Nov 20 as date to hear pleas against the Delhi Shahi Imam’s move to anoint his son as the Naib Imam (deputy Imam).

Three public interest litigations filed in the court said Jama Masjid is a property of the Delhi Wakf Board and Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari (Shahi Imam) as its employee cannot appoint his son as Naib Imam.

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A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw said it will hear in detail all the three pleas Thursday as the anointment ceremony is scheduled for Nov 22.

Counsel for Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the central government 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.

“It is irrelevant who is invited or who is not invited. It’s disturbing how we treat our history. Jama Masjid is over 100-year-old. It is an admitted position that it’s a waqf property. It is yet to be decided whether rule of primogeniture applies on succession of Imam,” said ASI counsel.

The pleas said Bukhari’s decision to anoint his 19-year-old son, Shaban Bukhari, as the Naib Imam or the “Deputy Imam” is wrong as there is no provision under the Wakf Act for hereditary appointment of the Imam of a mosque.

“Despite knowing that Imam is an employee of the Wakf Board and it’s 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 dastar bandi ceremony for the said purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic,” the pleas said.

Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque built during the Mughal era.

Besides, the PILs asked the court to declare invalid the appointment of Bukhari as the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid.

The pleas also alleged that there is “complete anarchy and misuse of power” by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid.

Alleging illegal construction within the masjid premises, one of the pleas sought a CBI probe. It also sought directions for the Delhi Wakf Board to take over the affairs of Jama Masjid and appoint an Imam.

The plea also asked the ASI and the central government to declare Jama Masjid a protected monument.

Bukhari recently sparked off a controversy by announcing that he has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the ceremony for annointing his son as the deputy Imam but did not feel the need to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi.