Indian court: Naik fled India, so why should passport be returned to him?

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bombay High Court asked why it should restore the passport of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik when he had absconded from India.

“A person cannot seek all these in absentia. Why should we grant relief to a person who is absconding from India and who is declared an offender?” asked Division Bench judges RM Savant and Sarang Kotwal on Monday.

“If a person surrenders to the law of the land and then approaches this court, his case can definitely be considered,” the judges were quoted as saying by The Hindustan Times.

Naik is challenging the cancellation of his passport by the Indian authorities after he repeatedly failed to appear for questioning by security officials in relation to accusations that he had incited hatred and engaged in money-laundering.

Naik has denied these accusations but has refused to return to India to fight his case.

According to the report, the court was about to dismiss Naik’s plea challenging the cancellation of his passport when his lawyer successfully asked for an adjournment of two weeks.

The report said the court’s comments came after advocate Hitendra Venegaonkar, representing the government, said the petition should be rejected as Naik had not cooperated with the investigating agencies.

In his petition, Naik claimed that he had never incited communal disharmony and that his lectures had been doctored.

India’s home affairs ministry has banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation and his Peace TV.