‘This is an absolutely frivolous writ petition,’ observes Justice R. F. Nariman
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Monday slapped a cost of Rs 50,000 on former Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board Chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi seeking removal of certain verses from Quran on the ground that they allegedly promote hatred and terror.
A bench headed by Justice R. F. Nariman at the outset queried Rizvi’s counsel — is he really serious about the matter and keen on pressing the petition.
The counsel replied in affirmative and began his arguments. After hearing the counsel for a few minutes, the bench said, “This is an absolutely frivolous writ petition.”
The top court dismissed the petition with a cost of Rs 50,000, which will be paid to legal service authorities.
Rizvi’s counsel argued that teaching in the holy book is not protected under Article 25 or 30 of the Constitution and cited issues with the interpretation of the verses. The counsel urged the apex court to issue guidelines on the issue, so that students, studying in the madrassas under government, should not be indoctrinated. The counsel submitted that his client had written to the Central government on these issues.
Waseem Rizvi is a Lucknow-based leader considered close to the Hindu right-wing. Filing a petition like this is perhaps the most provocative move which even the fanatics of Hindutva brigades have not made in the recent past.
Rizvi had claimed that 26 verses of the Quran “promote terrorism, violence and jihad”. They were “inserted” in the holy book by the first three caliphs of Islam, namely Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman “to widen the influence of Islam by force”. Rizvi also claimed that these verses are being used by terrorists to justify their acts.
A video clip of Rizvi’s interview to Aaj Tak Hindi channel was also made viral on social media. In the video, he was heard making allegations against Muslims, specially Madrassas, but refusing to spell out any verse that he finds objectionable. He also linked the verses to India’s national security.
By making wild allegation against the first three caliphs of Islam, Rizvi sought to create Shia-Sunni division. But he got first response from his own sect. Spokesperson of the All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yasub Abbas rejected his claim and said his organisation was opposed to his petition. He said not even a single word or coma or full stop can be removed from the Quran. Zee News quoted Maulana Yasub as saying that the Quran is a divine book and no Shia Imam has ever sought the removal of any verses from it. He said people like Waseem Rizvi are maligning Islam by claiming that Quran was inviting terror. Instead it gives a message of peace, he added.
Rizvi is a former Chairman of the Shia Waqf Board. He is currently facing several cases of corruption. In November 2020, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered cases against him for alleged illegal sale, purchase and transfer of Waqf properties in Uttar Pradesh. According to NDTV, the state government had ordered a CBI probe in 2019 into the alleged illegal sale and transfer of Waqf properties by UP Shia Central Waqf Board and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board.
According to Sabrang India, when he was still heading the UP Shia Central Waqf Board, Rizvi had welcomed the Supreme Court verdict that cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. He had announced that he was donating Rs 51,000 for the construction. Also, last year he verbally abused women protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Lucknow calling them “Badkirdaar auratein” or characterless women.
— With inputs from agencies