Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari cannot take advantage of being a mosque head and try to browbeat powers of courts under "fictitious"and "imaginary" threatofcommunal tension, a court said while refusing to quash a criminal case against him.
While terming as "funny and hilarious" the ground of possible communal tension, it also rejected the Imam's contention that he has Z-Plus security and inconvenience would be caused if he was taken to face trial, saying in the National Herald case, top Congress brass including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi appeared as accused in a court here.
"It does not appear to be tenable because recently some senior leaders of the Oppositionparty, namely Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who were summoned as accused in the National Heraldcase,andwhohadmuchhigher degreeofsecuritythreat hadappearedbeforethecourtoflawwithoutanykindof inconveniencebeingcausedtoanyone," Additional Sessions Judge Lokesh Kumar Sharma said.
If such exemptions and exceptions are carved out in legal arena, none of the "so-called head priests" of any sect would ever be brought to the corridors of justice, the court said.
The remarks were made by the court while dealing with the Imam's revision petition against a magisterial court's May 2016 order rejecting an application by the prosecutor under section 321 (withdrawal of prosecution) of CrPC in a case of alleged assault on public servants and damage to public property in 2001.
"Itappearsthepetitioneristryingtotake advantage of his being the head priest (Shahi Imam) of Jama Masjid, representingaparticularcommunityandistryingtobrowbeat thepowersofthe courtsunderafictitiousandimaginary threatofanoutburstofcommunaltension andunrest.
"Thepetitioner,likeanyotherordinarycitizenof India,isliabletobe prosecutedandtriedbythecourtin accordancewithlaw,tomeettheultimatefateof thecriminal caseregisteredagainsthimlikeanyotheraccused," it said.
The judge also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on him with a direction to deposit the amount in Prime Minister's Relief Fund for "wasting the precious judicial time of the court".
Observing that no one is above law irrespective of his
status, the judge said, "This plea appears to be very funny and hilarious because if such exemptions and exceptions are being carved out in legal arena, I am afraid that if any of the so-called head priest of a particular community or sect would ever be brought to the corridors of justice for any of his acts or omissions constituting an offence as provided in books of statute.
"In future all communal/religious leaders would start demanding such exemptions and immunities citing their position or status in the community or sect to which they belong and thus no such person would ever be punished for any of the wrongs done by him constituting offences under IPC.
"Even the Ex-Prime Minister of this nation, namely late P V Narshimha Rao as well as a very senior leader of the Opposition of that time, L K Advani, had also faced trial before the court of law and that had not sparked any tension or unrest in the society," it further said.
The judge, while upholding the magisterial court order dismissing the prosecutor's application, said it was mandatory for the prosecutor to produce permission of the Centre for withdrawal of prosecution instead of that of the Lieutenant Governor noting that the FIR in the case was lodged by Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
"Nocommunicationfromthecentralgovernmenthasbeen placedon record either before this court or before the magisterial court showing that any permissiontothat particular prosecutorwasaccordedbytheUnionofIndia to move suchanapplicationseekingwithdrawalofprosecution qua thepetitioner (Imam).
"Further,itisnotmandatoryforthecourttopermit withdrawalofthe prosecutionwheneveranysuchapplication ismovedbytheprosecutoronflimsyand whimsicalgrounds andthereforesection321CrPCprovidesthatsuchwithdrawal can onlybemadewithconsentofthecourtandnototherwise," the judge said.