The BJP-led central government and Waqf board on Thursday told the Delhi high court that Jama Masjid imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari’s decision to anoint his son as ‘Naib Imam’ (deputy imam) was ‘illegal’ and without any ‘legal sanctity’.
The submission was made before a division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice RS Endlaw that was hearing a bunch of PILs which have challenged the proposed November 22 ‘dastarbandi’ ceremony of Bukhari’s son Shaban.
The high court on Thursday also sought to know if the Jama Masjid was under the supervision of the Waqf Board and if it was, what has the board been doing about the issue. It also observed that if the board was the competent authority, then it should probe the matter and take necessary steps.
While admitting that the Jama Masjid was under its supervision, the Waqf Board said the current imam cannot on his own appoint his successor as he would not have any legal sanctity without its ratification.
The board also said that it is the ‘muttawalli’ (caretaker) of Jama Masjid and will be appointing a management committee for the same. It also said that the current imam was appointed in 2000, but he was ratified as imam only in 2006. The board also told the court that it will be holding a meeting soon and action will be taken against Bukhari for his actions.
The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, also suggested that the dastarbandi ceremony can be held without having any legal sanctity but at a place other than the Jama Masjid.
The PILs filed by Suhail Ahmed Khan, Ajay Gautam and advocate VK Anand state that the Jama Masjid is the property of the Delhi Waqf Board and that Bukhari as its employee cannot appoint his son as Naib Imam.
Another petition filed in the court by Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy — who claims to be the great grandson of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar — has also challenged the ceremony.
“The position of an imam is not hereditary and it is nowhere written in any Islamic literature or the holy Quran that only the son of an imam can be the next imam,” his petition said.