New Delhi, Nov 19: The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that Mughal-era mosque Jama Masjid is a Wakf property and it has to decide how the rule of primogeniture applies on anointment of new Shahi Imam, which has come under challenge. "It is irrelevant who is invited or who is not invited. It's disturbing how we treat our history...It is an admitted position that it's a Wakf property.
It has to be decided how rule of primogeniture will apply on succession of Imam/chief cleric," the Centre told the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also requested the court to declare the city's Jama Masjid as an ancient monument because of its national importance while contending that it needs to be protected.
ASI made the submission during the brief hearing of three separate PILs against Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari challenging the decision to anoint his son as the next chief cleric. The PILs filed by Suhail Ahmed Khan, Ajay Gautam and advocate V K Anand said Jama Masjid is a property of Delhi Wakf Board and Bukhari as its employee cannot appoint his son as Naib Imam (deputy Imam). ASI told the court that Jama Masjid is a historical monument commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, "so it needs to be protected by us (ASI)".
The court said it will hear the pleas tomorrow in detail for consideration. The petitions said Shahi Imam had announced on October 30 that his 19-year-old son would succeed him as the next Shahi Imam and the ceremony of 'Dastarbandi' would be held on November 22.
"Despite knowing that Shahi 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 dastarbandi ceremony for the said purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic," the pleas said.