Bombay High Court Declaratory Suit 21st & 22nd March 2018

The recording of evidence of His Holiness Syedna Taher Fakhruddin Saheb (TUS), the Plaintiff in Suit 337/2014, which had been originally filed by his predecessor His Holiness the Late Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin Saheb RA (the Original Plaintiff) in the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, continued on 21st and 22nd March in Courtroom No. 37 of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, presided over by the Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel.

 

Over four sessions of cross-examination, Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb was asked 78 questions by Mr Iqbal Chagla, Senior Counsel for the defendant Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin. Since 2015 when the cross-examination began, Syedna Qutbuddin Saheb was asked a total of 544 questions, and Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb has so far been asked 733 questions, a cumulative total of 1,277 questions between the Original Plaintiff and the Plaintiff to date.

 

Mr. Chagla showed Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb a manuscript that he was not familiar with. He was then asked to read from it to see whether it said that the nass conferred by the 25th Dai, Syedna Jalal RA on the 26th Dai Syedna Dawood bin Ajabshah RA was in the presence of the people of Dawat. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb answered yes, that was what the manuscript said. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb also added that the manuscript incorrectly said that the people of the Dawat handed over the Dawat to the 26th Dai. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb explained that it was never for the people of the Dawat to hand over the Dawat to the Mansoos and an authority as high as Syedna Hamiduddin al Kirmani (The Bab ul-Abwaab of the 16th Imam, Imam Hakim) had said that even if the whole world were to testify that a particular person is a successor, that is not valid unless there is a nass conferred by the Imam or Dai and therefore, it is the Imam or Dai who hands over the Dawat to the Mansoos.

 

Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb whether there was any written proof that supported his earlier statement that the biggest proof of the legitimacy of the 27th Dai Syedna Dawood bin Qutubshah’s claim to being the Dai was that he was the Mazoon of the 26th Dai. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded, yes, that this was stated in the book ‘Al Burhan al Jaliya’ written by Syedi Hasan bin Idris.

 

Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb if Maulatuna Hurrat al-Malika was a witness to the written communication from the 20th Imam appointing the 21st Imam. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded no, she was not. Mr. Chagla referred to the statement in Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb’s Affidavit of Evidence that the 20th Imam “chose Maulatuna Hurrat al-Malika to be the single witness to the nass he conferred via the Sijjil ul Bisharat” and asked which of these two above statements were true. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded that both statements were correct. He said in the question put to him today, he (Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb) meant that she (Maulatuna Hurrat al-Malika) was not physically present in Egypt to witness the letter (Sijjil ul Bisharat) being written by the 20th Imam (she was in Yemen at that time). In his earlier statement in his Affidavit of Evidence, Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb said that Maulatuna Hurrat al-Malika was the single witness to the nass because she testified that the 21st Imam was al-Tayyeb and it was based on her testimony that this Dawat in the seclusion of the Imam would continue in the name of the 21st Imam.

 

Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb questions regarding the basis on which he had said that Prophet Sulayman SA first conferred nass on his successor in private without any outside witnesses (i.e. only Prophet Sulayman and his mansoos were present). Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb replied that the conferment of the first nass being conferred in private is narrated by Syedna Qadi al-Noman, who was a Dai and also the Chief Justice during the time of the Imam in his book ‘Asaas ut-taweel’. In the same book Syedna Qadi al Noman also narrated that when the nass was again done at the end of Prophet Sulayman’s life the dignitaries of the Dawat said that had they known who the Mansoos was before they would not have suffered the anguish of not knowing his identity. Syedna Qadi al Noman cites a Quranic verse about this incident.

 

Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb what he meant when he said that the appointment of Maulana Ali AS was by an indication (i.e. not by a direct statement). Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded that he meant that Prophet Mohammed SAW in addressing the gathering referred to Imam Ali as his successor by juxtaposing Imam Ali’s name with his own. The Prophet said, “He whose Maula I am, Ali is now his Maula.” Mr Chagla then asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb whether Maulana Ali succeeded Prophet Mohammed by public anointment, to which Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb agreed.

 

Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb whether he was familiar with the handwriting of the 51st Dai. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb answered that he was familiar only to some extent. Mr. Chagla then asked whether he would be able to recognize the handwriting if he saw it, Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb said that he could not say until he was shown the specimen of his handwriting.

 

Mr. Chagla showed Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb a bound collection of documents. The portion shown was handwritten on lined paper using a pencil. Mr. Chagla then asked if Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb agreed that this was the handwriting of the 51st Dai. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded “no”. Mr. Chagla asked if he recognised the handwriting at all, to which Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded “no”.

 

Mr. Chagla then asked if Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb agreed that one of the pages in the collection of documents said that although nass can be conferred secretly, it must even so be done in the presence of two or four witnesses. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded that the page in question does not say that it must be done in the presence of two or four witnesses, but rather says that it may be done in the presence of two or four witnesses, and that it also says that the Dai has complete freedom of choice in this matter and may do as he pleases.

 

The Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel has scheduled the further cross-examination of Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb on 13th April 2018.