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Conclusion of Syedna's Cross Examination: Bombay High Court Declaratory Suit

31 January 2019

Dawoodi Bohra Succession High Court Suit 

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. Over 2,000 questions in aggregate were asked to His Holiness Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin Saheb RA and Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb by the Defendant Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin’s Senior Counsel Mr. Iqbal Chagla.

The next witness for the Plaintiff, Professor Wilferd Madelung, Laudian Professor Emeritus of Arabic at the University of Oxford, and an expert on the history of Islam including the Shia Ismaili sect (of which Dawoodi Bohras are a sub-group) will be cross examined from 11th March 2019.

This will be followed by the cross-examination of Shehzada Dr. Husain bhaisaheb Burhanuddin, 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.

The evidence on behalf of the Plaintiff Syedna Taher Fakhruddin Saheb will then be closed and thereafter Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin and his witnesses will lead their evidence and will be cross-examined by the Plaintiff’s Counsel. 

Case Background

The Suit was filed seeking a declaration that Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin Saheb was the 53rd Dai, having been appointed by His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb RA as his Mazoon (the rank next to the Dai) and Mansoos (successor) on the 17th of Shabaan 1385 (10th December 1965), only 28 days after becoming the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq. 

After the sad passing away of the 52nd Dai Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb in January 2014, Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin Saheb announced that he was anointed Mansoos (successor) by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb and that he was the 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq (head of the Dawoodi Bohra community), and not Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin. Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin Saheb called upon Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin to a public debate. When Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin did not respond, Syedna Qutbuddin Saheb filed a suit in the Honourable Bombay High Court seeking a declaration that he was the 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq.

The Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court expedited the suit in June 2014. Syedna Qutbuddin Saheb first appeared for cross-examination on 27th April 2015 and was cross-examined for 8 days over the next few months. On 30th March 2016, Syedna Qutbuddin Saheb sadly passed away, after having been asked 544 questions during cross-examination.

In June 2016, his successor Syedna Taher Fakhruddin Saheb filed a Chamber Summons to be substituted as Plaintiff in the Suit. In March 2017, the Hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel passed an order substituting Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb as Plaintiff. Starting in December 2017, Syedna Fakhruddin Saheb appeared for examination-in-chief by his Counsel Mr. Anand Desai and then for cross-examination by Shehzada Mufaddal Saifuddin’s Senior Counsel Mr. Iqbal Chagla. This cross-examination was concluded on 29th January 2019, after having answered 1,504 questions during his testimony.