HC to CBI: Who morphed Maulana Azad-Najma Heptulla photo?

New Delhi, Jan 16:The Delhi High Court Friday sought from the CBI the relevant records of the steps taken to investigate photo morphing of India's first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and union Minister Najma Heptulla.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked CBI counsel to produce the relevant records for court's perusal to show prima facie what steps were taken to inquire into the photo morphing incident.

HC to CBI: Who morphed Maulana Azad-Najma Heptulla photo?
The court was hearing a plea by Azad's grandnephew Firoz Bakht Ahmed, seeking to bring to a logical end the preliminary inquiries into the alleged morphing of a photo of Maulana Azad and Najma Heptulla.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed had moved the court alleging that the photo morphing was done at Heptulla's instance when she headed the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Heptulla is the minority affairs minister in the Narendra Modi government. She is also a grandniece of Maulana Azad.

Justice Shakdher, while posting the matter for Feb 27, said: "I need to know what were the steps taken for investigation on morphed photograph. CBI will produce relevant documents to show prima facie what steps were taken to conduct this investigation."

The court's direction came after the CBI produced the Self Contained Note on the issue and from its perusal it was not clear to court as to what action the agency has taken to investigate the issue of photo morphing.

The court asked the investigative agency to inform how it reached the conclusion that there is no evidence in the matter.

During the hearing, the CBI told the court that the allegation of photo morphing was inquired into during the preliminary inquiry. However, after the probe, "CBI was of the view that the allegation of photo morphing could not be substantiated as there was no sufficient incriminating admissible evidence for prosecution".

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Ahmed, argued that from the evidences apparent on record it was clear that photo morphing did happen, but the CBI has till date failed to ascertain who was responsible for photo morphing and whether Heptulla selected the morphed photograph knowing it was morphed.

The alleged morphed photograph was published in a book titled "Journey of a Legend: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad 1888-1958" by ICCR in 2005, and showed Azad seating with Heptulla after her graduation.

The publication was later withdrawn by ICCR. Bhushan also told the court that it was a morphed photograph as Heptulla had graduated in May 1958, whereas Azad had passed away Feb 22, 1958.


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