Honorifics and flowery words not an indication of nass, says defendant
Mumbai: On the tenth day of the Syedna succession case in the Bombay high court, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s counsel refuted the claim that special words and acts bestowed by family members and persons of higher learning on Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin after December 1965 were indicators of them perceiving that nass or succession had been conferred upon him
Mumbai: On the tenth day of the Syedna succession case in the Bombay high court, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s counsel refuted the claim that special words and acts bestowed by family members and persons of higher learning on Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin after December 1965 were indicators of them perceiving that nass or succession had been conferred upon him. The counsel submitted that community members on the whole were given to using flowery language while addressing one another in their letters.
The HC bench, however, stressed that both parties needed to concentrate on proving or disproving whether nass was actually conferred on the original plaintiff by the 52nd Dai on December 10, 1965.
Senior counsel Fredun Di’Vitre for Syedna Saifuddin commenced arguments by refuting the submissions by Syedna Taher Fakhruddin’s counsel, Anand Desai, that the behaviour of the defendant and his brothers had changed towards Syedna Qutbuddin in 1988. Di’Vitre informed the bench that on the contrary, the defendant had accorded the respect due to the maazoon during his marriage to the original plaintiff’s daughter.
At this point, Justice Gautam Patel noted that there were three distinct periods between 1965 and 2014 which needed to be addressed separately to ascertain whether the nass conferred privately on the original plaintiff had actually occurred. The three periods were from 1965 to 1988, 1989 to 2011 and 2011 to 2014. Justice Patel asked Di’Vitre to start from the first period.
While referring to the sermon of the 52nd Dai on December 10, 1965, where he addressed the original plaintiff as ‘my beloved son’, Di’Vitre submitted that it was the usual practice of the Dai to refer to people as ‘beloved son’, as he was considered the father of the entire community. The inference by the plaintiff that ‘beloved son’ implied spiritual son on whom nass had been conferred was mere speculation, as only the 52nd Dai could actually clarify what he meant.
The bench was further informed that honorifics and expressions like maula, sajda and the use of words like ‘May your life be long’, were not restricted to the Dai and his successor but was used for others too. Di’Vitre made specific reference to letters written by the 51st and 52nd Dais to others, as well as letters from others to the family of the 52nd Dai, to show that even those persons who did not hold any rank were addressed as Maula, ‘Coolness of the eyes of Imam’ and other sobriquets.
The defence counsel also referred to the letter written by the defendant and his brother to the original plaintiff after December 1965, wherein the original plaintiff was offered sajda and was addressed as Aqa and Maula, and was told that the brothers were greatly impressed by his rank. Di’Vitre informed the bench that the honorifics were used as a sign of respect, as Syedna Qutbuddin was their tutor for almost 10 years.
Di’Vitre also submitted that written or physical sajda was not specific to any person, and as per answers from the witnesses, it was seen that the original plaintiff was being offered physical sajda even before he was named as maazoon (second-in- command) in December 1965.
Further, he said, some defence witnesses and family members had also said that they had not been doing physical sajda to the original plaintiff both before and after 1988; hence, the allegation that there was a change in the behaviour of the defendant and his brother after 1988 also could not be proved.