July 4, 2012 1:30:02 am
A Delhi court has issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid,Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari,in connection with a criminal case and directed police to arrest and produce him in court.
Slamming the Delhi Police for failing to execute an earlier warrant against him,Metropolitan Magistrate Rajinder Singh issued a fresh NBW against Bukhari. Despite a warrant,the Shahi Imam remained absent and brought court proceedings in the matter to a halt,he said.
Issuing the warrant,the Magistrate referred to an earlier court order that reproached the Police department,including the Commissioner of Police,for not having the courage to execute the warrant against Bukhari in the criminal case lodged against him and two others in 2001.
The Magistrate observed that legal provisions entailed initiating the proceedings of declaring Bukhari a proclaimed offender,but doing so would undermine the authority of law.
In my considered opinion,declaring accused Ahmed Bukhari a proclaimed offender would be a mockery of law and it would provide an easy escape route to the accused. It is surprising and shocking as well to see the police force not able to execute the NBW issued against Bukhari. Such inaction by police cannot be tolerated, he said in his order last week. A copy of the order was made available only now.
The court has ordered the station house officer of Lodhi Colony to personally execute the warrant by July 17 and show up in court on the next date with a report. The report has to be forwarded by the DCP concerned.
The FIR,lodged with Lodhi Colony police station,had accused Bukhari along with two others Habib-ur-Rehman and Nafisa of rioting,obstructing and assaulting public servants from discharging their duties.
The alleged incident took place on September 3,2001,when police and civic agencies officials were reportedly trying to remove encroachment from near CGO Complex in Lodhi Colony. But a mob,led by Bukhari,reportedly assaulted them.
Habib-ur-Rehman and Nafisa were arrested,but the cleric was not picked up on the ground that there would be a law and order problem. Later,the chargesheet was filed and he was named as accused,but was not arrested.
In January 2004,the court had ordered re-investigation of the case,noting that proper inquiry was not carried out and Bukhari was also not arrested. Later,police said he could not be arrested because this could lead to communal riots.
In May 2006,an NBW was issued through the DCP (South). The officer failed to execute it and police kept on seeking time. They also claimed that Bukhari was untraceable.
In July 2010,the court criticised police for their failure to execute the warrant and asked the Commissioner of Police to execute the warrant in order to uphold the rule of law. However,a few days later,the court was informed that even the Commissioner had failed to execute the warrant.
I can say from the record that in Delhi,police officers up to the rank of Commissioner of Police have no courage to execute the warrant against Bukhari. Name of the accused along with his residential address is known to the police,but the officers have failed to arrest the accused since 2001. Nine years have passed and because of the non-execution of NBWs,proceedings cannot be conducted further, the court said on December 14 last year.
It asked the Commissioner of Police to be in court and inform if Bukhari was above the law.
However,in May 2011,the prosecutor moved an application,seeking its approval to withdraw the case in public interest. The prosecutor said the application was moved following a recommendation from Delhis Lieutenant Governor and Deputy Secretary (Home).
Before the court could take a call on this application,a protest petition was moved. It contended that the plea has no merit. This application will come up for hearing on July 17.
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