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Ceremony would not amount to anointment of Naib Imam: HC

Delhi high court

New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today said the ceremony (dastarbandi) to anoint Shahi Imam Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari’s son as the Naib Imam of Jama Masjid “would not amount to an appointment”.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw made the observation after taking into account the contentions of the Centre, Delhi Wakf Board and petitioners, who have challenged the ceremony, adding that in such a situation there is no need to stay the function.

The court also noted that under the Wakf Act, 1995, the law only “provides for a mutawalli (manager) of a wakf and contains no provision for appointment of Imams of Wakf properties, even if a masjid”.

“We are of the opinion, that in the face of the contentions of the petitioners that Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari has no right in law or otherwise to anoint his son as the Naib Imam and which is supported by the Delhi Wakf board…

“…the anointment ceremony (Dastarbandi) scheduled on November 22, 2014, even if not stayed, would not amount to anointment/appointment of the said son of Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari as the Naib Imam of the Jama Masjid. We, therefore, do not feel any need to pass any ad-interim order restraining the same,” the bench said.

The court also did not restrain Bukhari from holding the ceremony at Jama Masjid, as sought by the petitioners, saying he and his family have been using the same as their residence for the last several years.

“However, we clarify that the ceremony so held and the anointment made therein of the youngest son of Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari or any other person as the Naib Imam of the Jama Masjid shall be subject to further orders in this petition and shall not vest/ create any rights or special equities in favour of any person,” the court said.

It also issued notice and sought responses of the Archaeological Survey of India, Delhi government, DDA, MCD, city police, Wakf Board, CBI as well as Bukhari by the next date of hearing on January 28, 2015.

The bench also noted that “no answer is forthcoming” from the Wakf Board as to why it “has not exercised any rights or supervision over the Jama Masjid” or why it has “allowed Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari to appropriate all earnings from the said Masjid and also not taken any action for accounts thereof being not rendered inspite of court directions”.

The court’s order came on three PILs challenging the Shahi Imam’s decision to appoint his son as the Naib Imam.

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