First round of final arguments concluded, second round from Jan 11
On December 8, senior defence counsels Iqbal Chagla, Fredun Di’Vitre and Janak Dwarkadas started arguments, refuting the claim of plaintiff (the late) Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin. Syedna Qutbuddin had filed the suit in 2014 in the HC, claiming to 53rd Dai of the Dawoodi Bohra community
Mumbai: The final hearing of the Syedna succession case, which started on November 28, saw defendant Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s counsels make an emphatic case before the Bombay high court that witnesses were required for confirming conferment of a valid nass. The original plaintiff had cited instances of private nass to prove that the December 10, 1965 nass conferred on him was valid, said the counsels—however, all these instances, though private, had witnesses.
The counsels also brought up the claim by the plaintiff that the 52nd Dai was infirm and incapacitated on June 4, 2011, and hence could not have conferred nass on the defendant in hospital. Refuting this claim, they said the Dai’s doctors— consulting neurologist Dr Omar Malik and consulting respiratory physician Dr John Costello had said that the Dai was mentally sound even after the stroke and hence there could be no doubts about the nass he had conferred on the defendant on June 4, 2011.
On December 8, senior defence counsels Iqbal Chagla, Fredun Di’Vitre and Janak Dwarkadas started arguments, refuting the claim of plaintiff (the late) Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin. Syedna Qutbuddin had filed the suit in 2014 in the HC, claiming he was the 53rd Dai-al-Mutlaq of the 1.5 million-strong Dawoodi Bohra community across the world. The suit had stated that as he was conferred nass privately by the 52nd Dai and was told to keep it confidential. Thus, after the latter’s demise, he should have been the 53rd Dai but the defendant had usurped the position.
On the untimely demise of Syedna Qutbuddin, his son Syedna Taher Fakhruddin replaced him in the suit, asserting that his father, the 53rd Dai, had conferred nass on him and hence he was the 54th Dai. While responding to the queries of Justice Gautam Patel, senior counsel Anand Desai for the plaintiffs had informed the bench that a private nass was accepted as a doctrine of the community. Desai cited past instances to prove this and reiterated that the nass conferred on Syedna Qutbuddin in December 1965 was valid though it did not any witness except himself.
Senior counsel Chagla, while giving an overview of the defendant’s arguments, had stated that the suit was filed for fame, glory and wealth. He said that the 52nd Dai had conferred nass on the defendant in the presence of witnesses, and hence the claim of the plaintiff of being conferred nass privately was not valid.
The bench was then taken through past instances of private nass by senior counsel Di’Vitre, who said that the appointment of the fourth, eighth, 27th and 50th Dais, which were referred to by the plaintiffs, all had witnesses. He also informed the bench that the instance of the private appointment of Prophet Sulaiman’s successor was also done in the presence of Nuqabas.
The counsel also debunked the allegation of the plaintiff that the defendant and his brothers had risked the life of the 52nd Dai by taking him in an air ambulance from London to Mumbai on June 17, 2011. The plaintiff had stated that the event at Raudat Tahera (the mausoleum of the 51st Dai) on June 20, 2011, where the conferment of nass on the defendant was reiterated by releasing a risala (treatise) by the 52nd Dai in his presence was not required if a valid nass was conferred on June 4, 2011.
Dwarkadas submitted that the 52nd Dai was brought to Mumbai on his insistence as he wanted to attend the Urus of the 51st Dai and said that the Dai’s travel was cleared by the doctors treating him.
As December 23 was the last working day of the HC before the winter vacations, Justice Patel said that hearing would continue from January 11 on a day-to-day basis, albeit from 4.30 pm, till both parties completed their arguments, rejoinders and surrejoinders.