CBI to High Court: Maulana Azad-Najma Heptulla photo was morphed

The CBI has told the Delhi High Court that a controversial photograph of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Najma Heptulla, published in a book on the country’s first education minister, has been morphed, but the identity of the person responsible for it is yet to be ascertained.

The submission of the central probe agency is contrary to its earlier stand that there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that the photo was morphed.

However, it has recently told a bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher that its investigation has revealed that “the subject photograph has been morphed”.

“…but what has not come through clearly in the investigation is as to who is responsible for morphing the photograph,” the court noted and said that this aspect would be examined on the next date of hearing.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also told the court that on the next date of hearing, it would place before it the statement of the printer of the book, along with two case diaries.

In a status report filed in the court in December 2014, the CBI had said, “The allegation of photo-morphing was enquired into during the preliminary enquiry (PE)…During the course of the enquiry, witnesses were examined and documents were collected.

“However, after the enquiry, the CBI was of the view that the allegation of photo-morphing could not be substantiated as there was no sufficient incriminating admissible evidence for the prosecution.”

The court was hearing a plea filed by Azad’s grandnephew, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who has alleged that the morphing was done at the instance of Heptulla, presently the Governor of Manipur, when she was heading the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The controversial photograph, showing Azad sitting with Heptulla after the latter’s graduation, was published in an ICCR publication, titled “Journey of a Legend, on the life of India’s first Education Minister”.

The publication was later withdrawn by the ICCR.

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