“Our issue is we are not conversant with the issue. How an Imam is appointed at all. I am totally blank in this. We will need a short write up on it. You give a brief synopsis,” the chief justice told the counsel for the Delhi Waqf Board.
It granted time to the board’s counsel to file a synopsis and listed the matter for further hearing on February 8, 2023.
The high court was hearing a clutch of PILs that sought directions to authorities to declare the historic Mughal-era Jama Masjid a protected monument and remove all encroachments in and around it.
The counsel appearing for petitioner Suhail Ahmed Khan had earlier said the court’s orders were being flouted and not followed and asked why Jama Masjid was not under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The court had earlier sought the response of the Delhi Waqf Board and Jama Masjid’s Imam Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari to a plea seeking to restrain the board from using the title ‘Shahi Imam’. The plea also sought to stop the practice of using the honorific ‘shahi’ (royal) by imams of other mosques in Delhi.
The ASI had in August 2015 told the high court that Manmohan Singh, when he was the prime minister, assured the Shahi Imam that Jama Masjid will not be declared a protected monument.
The court was also informed since Jama Masjid was not a centrally protected monument, it did not fall within the jurisdiction of the ASI.
“In 2004, the issue of notifying the Jama Masjid as a centrally protected monument was raised. However, former prime minister Manmohan Singh assured the Shahi Imam, vide his October 20, 2004 letter, that the Jama Masjid would not be declared as centrally protected monument,” the ASI had said in its affidavit in the court.
The high court had earlier directed the Centre to place before it the documents containing the decision of the then prime minister that Jama Masjid should not be declared a protected monument.
It had noted that despite its several orders the government has failed to produce the documents.
The PILs, filed by Suhail Ahmed Khan, Ajay Gautam and advocate V K Anand, have contended Jama Masjid was a property of the Delhi Wakf Board and Syed Ahmed Bukhari as its employee cannot appoint his son as the Naib (deputy) Imam. They had also sought a CBI probe into the mosque’s management. PTI SKV SKV SK