Bombay High Court Declaratory Suit 13th April 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 13th April in Courtroom No. 37 of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, presided over by the Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel.


Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb was asked 30 questions over two sessions of cross-examination 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 763 questions, a cumulative total of 1,307 questions between the Original Plaintiff and the Plaintiff to date.


Mr. Chagla showed Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb an extract from the Quran and asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb whether that extract of the Quran says that a Will is required to be witnessed by two men.  Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb disagreed and replied that it speaks of the making of a worldly Will and the one or two ways in which this may be legitimately done. Mr. Chagla then asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb what a Will is that is not “worldly”. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb replied that nass of succession is also a type of Will but it does not pertain only to worldly matters.


Mr. Chagla asked Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb whether ‘wasiyyah’ means a Will. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded that it is one of its prominent meanings and that it can also mean an advice or counsel that a person should act in a certain way or do a certain thing, and that even an instruction or advisory can take the form of a ‘wasiyyah’.


Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb was asked whether he agreed that per the tenets of the Dawoodi Bohra faith, nass is equated to a ‘wasiyyah’. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb replied that he agreed, and further clarified that a wasiyyah that is a nass of succession is different in many ways from a wasiyyah that is a worldly will.


Mr. Chagla showed an extract from Muktasar al Asaar (by Syedna al-Qadi al-Numan, chief Qadi in the time of Imam Muizz in Fatimid Cairo, and high ranking Dawat dignitary at the time) to Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb and asked whether he maintains that a bequest can be validly made without witnesses. Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb replied yes, and added that the same author (Syedna al-Qadi al-Numan) has also said elsewhere that if you do not find an outside witness, then you should still proceed to make the bequest because the Prophet has said so.


Mr. Chagla showed Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb his Plaint and Affidavit of Evidence. He then asked whether his testimony that the 7th Dai (Syedna Ahmed ibn Mubarak RA) conferred a nass of succession on his Mazoon (Syedna Husain ibn Ali RA) to succeed him as the 8th Dai and did so in private without any outside or other witnesses present was based on the Arabic sentence “fa-ma ashhada al shohadaa zaaheran wa-ma nassa alayhi zaaheran” from Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA’s Risalat Mashrabat Tasneem Nur (1363AH). Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb responded yes, and that it is also based on a sermon by the 52nd Dai on 10th February 2005 in which he said that the 8th Dai testified to the nass conferred on him by the 7th Dai. Since there were no other witnesses, his (the 8th Dai, Syedna Husain ibn Ali RA’s) own testimony was sufficient.


The Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel has scheduled the further cross-examination of Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb for five further days on 20th and 21st June, and on 3rd, 4th, and 5th July 2018.