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Sifat Ali Khan and ors. Vs. Ali Mian and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1933All284
AppellantSifat Ali Khan and ors.
RespondentAli Mian and ors.
Excerpt:
.....plaintiffs in the present case set up exclusive rights which they have failed to..........the plaintiffs have failed to prove any legal right to compel the contesting defendants not to offer prayers behind anyone who not a member of the ahmadya sect.3. on these findings the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' suit. the plaintiffs appealed and the learned district judge while upholding the findings of the trial court has granted the plaintiffs an injunction restraining the defendants and all other non-ahmadis from saying or doing anything which may cause interruption in the performance of namaz and other religious functions by the plaintiff-appellants and other ahmadis while they are present in the mosque for the purpose of the said performance. the defendants come to this court in second appeal and urge that the court below was wrong in granting to the plaintiffs the.....
Judgment:

King, J

1. This appeal arises out of a suit for a declaration that the plaintiffs are the mutwallis and Imams of a certain mosque situated in Shahjahanpur City, and they have for more than 25 years been saying namaz as members of the Ahmadya community, and that the defendants and all other non-Ahmadis have on no account any right to offer their prayers in congregation led by some other Imam. The second relief was that a perpetual injunction be issued to the defendants and all other non-Ahmadis restraining them from doing any act which might cause interfunction in the offering of prayers and in the performance of other religious functions while the plaintiffs and others of their faith are saying namaz in the mosque. It appears that the mosque in suit was built long before the Ahmadya sect was founded. The sect was founded by one Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in the Punjab about the year 1888. He proclaimed himself a Prophet and a sect of his followers was founded. The plaintiffs in the present suit used to be orthodox Sunni Mahomedan but it appears that about 25 or 30 years ago they became followers of the Ahmadya sect. Their case was that they had all along been leading prayers in this mosque and that other Mahomedans who did not adopt the tenets of the Ahmedya sect had ceased to come and so the mosque had practically been frequented only by members of the Ahmadya sect. Recently certain of the Sunnis had created disturbances when the plaintiffs were leading prayers according to their ritual.

2. The learned Munsif found that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that they were ever mutwallis of the mosque; he further found that they failed to prove that plaintiff 1 had ever any legal right to officiate as an Imam. It appears that the plaintiff 1 had officiated as Imam on certain occasions but he was not the exclusive Imam and the congregation used to choose any of the members present to lead the prayers. In any case, the plaintiff had not established any exclusive right to lead the prayers as Imam. It was also found that the plaintiffs have failed to prove any legal right to compel the contesting defendants not to offer prayers behind anyone who not a member of the Ahmadya sect.

3. On these findings the trial Court dismissed the plaintiffs' suit. The plaintiffs appealed and the learned District Judge while upholding the findings of the trial Court has granted the plaintiffs an injunction restraining the defendants and all other non-Ahmadis from saying or doing anything which may cause interruption in the performance of namaz and other religious functions by the plaintiff-appellants and other Ahmadis while they are present in the mosque for the purpose of the said performance. The defendants come to this Court in second appeal and urge that the Court below was wrong in granting to the plaintiffs the injunction specified.

4. On the facts found, namely, that the plaintiffs have failed to establish any exclusive right to lead the prayers as Imams, and that they are not mutwallis of the mosque in question, and that the mosque in question was founded by Sunnis long before the foundation of the Ahmadya sect, it is clear that the plaintiffs have failed to establish the exclusive claims which they set up in the first relief claimed in the plaint. The only question is whether the plaintiffs arc entitled to any relief at all, owing to the fact that the opposite party had contested their right to offer up prayers in the mosque on the ground that they were not Mahomedans, and if so, what form of declaration or injunction should be granted to them. The learned advocate for the appellants has referred us to the case of Hakim Khalil Ahmad v. Malik Israfi (1917) 2 Pat LJ 108, in which the facts were somewhat similar. It was held in that case that the sect known as Ahmadis or Kadianis are Mahomedans notwithstanding their pronounced dissent on several important matters from the orthodoz Mahomcdan faith.

5. The dispute in that case also related to the right of Ahmadis to worship in a Sunni mosque. It was held that the Kadianis are entitled to enter a mosque if they please and offer up prayers with the regular congregation behind the recognized Imam but they are not entitled to pray in saparate congregation behind an Imam of their own in a mosque which has always been used by orthodox Mahomedans. It is objected that the injunction granted by the Court below goes much further than the declaration which was given in the case cited. The injunction enables the plaintiffs who are of the Ahmadya sect to offer up prayers as a separate congregation behind an Imam of their own. This was not allowed in the case cited and in our opinion the decision in that case was fair and sound. The plaintiffs in the present case set up exclusive rights which they have failed to establish. The learned advocate for the appellant does not, for the purpose of the appeal, contest the point that the plaintiffs arc Mahomedans and are as such entitled to offer up prayers in the mosque. He objects to the superior position which has been given to the plaintiffs under the terms of the injunction. He would have no objection if a declaration were given to the plaintiffs on the lines of the declaration given in the case cited.

6. It has been argued for the respondents that their right to enter the mosque as Mahomedans has been contested and it is necessary that they should be given an injunction to restrain the defendants from any interference in the future. In our opinion no injunction is necessary, certainly not any injunction in the terms granted by the Court below. The plaintiffs did not, in so many words, claim any declaration of right to offer up prayers in the mosque simply in the capacity of Mahomedans. They claimed a declaration of exclusive right to lead prayers as Imam and to exercise the authority of mutwallis. In order to avoid further disputes however we think that it would be advisable to give the plaintiffs a declaration on the lines granted in the case cited. That is to say, the plaintiffs' right t o offer up prayers in the mosque as Mahomedans should be recognized but only subject to certain conditions. We therefore allow the appeal to this extent that we set aside the injunction granted by the Court below but we substitute a decree declaring that the plaintiffs are entitled to enter the mosque if they please and to offer up prayers with the regular congregation, behind the Imam chosen by the members of the congregation, but they are not entitled to pray in a separate congregation behind an Imam of their own.

7. As the appellants have substantially succeeded we order that the appellants should have their costs throughout, with the exception of the expenses incurred in examining Muhamad Kifayatulla, and Shukrulla's son Habibulla, witnesses. The cross-objection is not pressed and is concluded by the findings of fact; it is therefore dismissed with costs.


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