New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed a plea filed in the alleged photo morphing of India's first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and union minister Najma Heptulla by an Indian Foreign Service officer, who conducted the administrative inquiry in the matter in 2005.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher, after a brief hearing, posted the matter for April 23.
The plea said morphing was done at the instance of Heptulla, who was the president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at that time.
The intervening application by IFS officer Madhup Mohta was filed in an ongoing case filed earlier by Azad's grandnephew Firoz Bakht Ahmed, seeking to bring to a logical end the preliminary inquiries into the alleged morphing of a photo of Maulana Azad and Heptulla.
He had also alleged that photo morphing was done at Heptulla's instance.
Heptulla is the minority affairs minister in the Narendra Modi government and also a grand niece of Maulana Azad.
The court earlier asked the CBI to produce the relevant records for the court's perusal to show prima facie what steps were taken to inquire into the photo morphing incident.
Mohta moved the court, saying he was posted as director of ICCR at the relevant time during the year 2005, when the book was alleged to have been published by the ICCR along with the morphed photo.
Saying he was the whistle-blower who had first detected the morphing of the photo, Mohta had conducted a part administrative enquiry on the issue within the ICCR (the other part of the said enquiry was conducted by the director general of the ICCR).
"For this purpose, Mohta had examined certain witnesses, recorded their statements and had collected relevant documents/photographs used for morphing. At that time it was found that there was sufficient evidence to show that the morphing of the photograph had been done at the instance of Najma Heptulla," advocate Ashok Dhamija said while appearing for Mohta.
Mohta sought permission to intervene in the case so that he could provide details of the evidence that had been collected in this matter.
The alleged morphed photograph was published in a book titled "Journey of a Legend: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad 1888-1958" by ICCR in 2005 and showed Azad seating with Heptulla after her graduation.
The publication was later withdrawn by ICCR.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had appeared for Firoz Bakht Ahmed, had told the court that it was a morphed photograph as Heptulla had graduated in May 1958, whereas Azad had passed away on February 22, 1958.