The central government and Wakf Board Thursday told the Delhi High Court that the anointment ceremony of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam’s son as the Naib Imam (deputy Imam) was “illegal” and has no legal sanctity.
A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice RS Endlaw was told by the Delhi Wakf Board that it has not given any legal sanctity on appointment of Imam and will soon hold a meeting in this regard.
The anointment ceremony is scheduled for November 22. The court after hearing the arguments reserved its order and will pass an order later in the day.
The court was hearing three public interest litigations (PILs) filed that 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.
During Wednesday’s hearing counsel for Archaeological Survey of India 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.
The pleas 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 Wakf Act for hereditary appointment of the Imam.
“Despite knowing that the 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 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 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi.