The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government to file their response to a plea contending that the Delhi Minorities Commission Act was invalid, PTI reported. The petition further demanded that the panel’s Chairperson Zafarul-Islam Khan should be sacked from his post.
The petition, filed by Vikram Gahlot, a social worker, claimed the Delhi Legislative Assembly did not have the powers to enact the Minorities Commission Act and called for it to be struck down. Since the act was invalid, the plea said that appointments made under it, including that of Khan, are also invalid.
A bench comprised of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula asked the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor’s office to file a status report regarding the allegations. The matter has been listed for hearing on May 21.
Delhi government’s Additional Standing Counsel Anupam Srivastava, who also represented the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, cited another petition which has sought the removal of Khan from his post. The minorities panel chief is currently facing charges of alleged seditious and hateful acts.
The other plea was filed by Subhash Chandra, a retired bank official. On May 11, a single judge bench asked the administration to take a decision on the issue expeditiously, as Khan’s term as the chairperson will expire on July 14.
On April 28, Khan in a tweet had thanked Kuwait for “standing with Indian Muslims,” in context of the large-scale communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February. In his tweet, Khan had also praised controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, claiming he was a “respected household name in the Arab and Muslim world”. He had later apologised for his remarks. It is alleged that Naik inspired one of the terrorists in the 2016 attack on a Dhaka restaurant.
Last week, the Delhi High Court had granted interim protection from any coercive action to Khan in relation to a case against him for allegedly making the provocative statements on social media. The court will take up the matter again on June 22.