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Delhi HC refuses to stay anointment ceremony of Shahi Imam's son

IANS 21 Nov 2014, 13:25:39 PM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay the anointment ceremony of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam's son as the Naib Imam (deputy Imam) saying the ceremony has no legal sanctity.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw said that 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 Thursday told the court that anointment of Naib Imam was "illegal" and has no legal sanctity.

The court also issued notice to centre, the Delhi Waqf Board and the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), DDA and MCD and sought their response by Jan 28.

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 or the deputy Imam was wrong as there is 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 dastar bandi ceremony for the purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic," the pleas said.

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 a "complete anarchy and misuse of power" by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid.

Bukhari recently sparked off a controversy by announcing that he has 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.