Cross-Examination of Defendant’s Second Witness, Dr. John Costello
The cross-examination of the Defendant’s second witness, Dr. John Costello, a consultant respiratory medicine physician, began on 30th March 2021, with Mr. Anand Desai of DSK Legal, on behalf of the Plaintiff, conducting the cross-examination. Due to the Covid pandemic, Dr. Costello was unable to travel to Mumbai and the Hon’ble Bombay High Court set up a video link for his cross-examination at the International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) in London.
Dr. Costello attended to His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb RA at BUPA Cromwell Hospital in London in June 2011 when Syedna Burhanuddin had suffered infection and a brainstem stroke.
The Defendant, Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin, has alleged that Syedna Burhanuddin performed nass on him in the hospital, on the 4th of June 2011, just after suffering the stroke.
Mr. Desai on behalf of the Plaintiff asked questions challenging the correctness of Dr. Costello’s claims based on the contemporaneous hospital records of Syedna Burhanuddin. The cross-examination spanned two half-day sessions, with 42 questions asked, and ended on 31st March 2021.
Mr. Iqbal Chagla, counsel for the Defendant, indicated that the Defendant’s third witness will be Abdulqadir Moiz Nooruddin, the Defendant’s son-in-law. His cross-examination was scheduled for three sessions on 9th, 10th, and 11th June 2021, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
On 7th June 2021 the matter was heard for directions via video conferencing, and the Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel advised that the matter will be listed for directions once these restrictions are lifted or relaxed.
Cross-Examination of Defendant’s First Witness, Dr. Omar Malik
The cross-examination of the Defendant’s first witness, Dr. Omar Malik, a consultant neurologist, began on 2nd February 2021, with Mr. Anand Desai of DSK Legal, on behalf of the Plaintiff, conducting the cross-examination. Dr. Malik gave evidence via video link from the IDRC.
Dr. Omar Malik had also attended to His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb RA at BUPA Cromwell Hospital in London in June 2011.
Dr. Malik gave an affidavit of evidence in the court saying that he saw Syedna Burhanuddin twice, on the 1st and 3rd of June, and he claimed that he had no doubt that Syedna Burhanuddin was capable of communicating his wishes and instructions during his stay at the hospital.
Mr. Desai on behalf of the Plaintiff asked questions challenging the correctness of Dr. Malik’s claims based on the contemporaneous hospital records of Syedna Burhanuddin. The cross-examination spanned three half-day sessions, with 118 questions asked, and ended on 4th February 2021.
The cross-examination of His Holiness Syedna Taher Fakhruddin Saheb TUS (the Plaintiff) concluded on 29th January 2019, after hearings on 27 days at the Hon’ble Bombay High Court.
Next was the cross-examination of the Plaintiff’s expert witness, Professor Devin Stewart, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Emory University, USA. Professor Stewart is an independent expert on Ismaili, Shia and Islamic history and doctrine.
Professor Stewart’s cross-examination concluded on 6th December 2019 after 6 days of cross-examination. Reports of his testimony were published in online and print media by the Mumbai Mirror, Indian Express, Free Press Journal and others.
The cross-examination of the Plaintiff’s next witness, Mukasir-e-Dawat Dr. Syedi Husain Bhaisaheb Burhanuddin Saheb AAB, PhD in Quranic Studies from the University of Cambridge, who has translated documents in the Arabic and Lisan-ud-Dawat languages into the English language, concluded on 21st February 2020, after 7 days of cross-examination.
In February 2020, His Holiness Syedna Taher Fakhruddin Saheb TUS, the Plaintiff, closed his case.
Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin, the Defendant, chose not to be a witness in the suit and therefore will not be cross-examined. In a trial the Defendant should be the first witness unless they take the leave of Court. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court had observed that as the Defendant had chosen not to be the first witness and not applied for such leave he will now not be permitted to be a witness in the trial.