Bombay HC Dismisses Suit Challenging Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin's Position As Head Of Dawoodi Bohra Community

Bombay HC Dismisses Suit Challenging Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin's Position As Head Of Dawoodi Bohra Community

The suit was filed by his Taher Fakhruddin.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 12:57 PM IST
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Bombay HC Dismisses Suit Challenging Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin's Position As Head Of Dawoodi Bohra Community |

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the suit challenging Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin's position as the 53rd Dai-al-Mutlaq or spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

“I have dismissed the suit,” said Justice Gautam Patel while dismissing the suit filed by Taher Fakhruddin challenging Syedna MufSaufuddin’ succession as the spiritual leader.

Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, the 52nd Dia al Mutlaq, passed away in 2014 and his son, Mufaddal Saifuddin, succeeded him.

The late Syedna’s half-brother, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, challenged the succession in the high court. He sought declaration that he was the leader of the community based on a secret nass (conferment of succession) by the deceased leader on Dec 10, 1965.

Qutubuddin's Son Sought Leadership Of Bohra Community

After Qutbuddin’s death in 2016 in the USA, his son Syedna Taher Fakhruddin, became the plaintiff and sought that he be declared as the leader. Fakhruddin has claimed his father conferred the nass upon him and thus he should be declared the Dai.

After pronouncing the judgement, the court expressed its apprehension and requested the counsels appearing for the plaintiff to see that the feelings are contained.

“There is apprehension on my part. I don't want any upheavals. I have kept the judgment as neutral for personalities involved. I have only decided on the issue of proof and not faith,” Justice Patel said.

The Dawoodi Bohras are a religious denomination among Shia Muslims. Traditionally a community of traders and entrepreneurs, it has over 5 lakh members in India and over 10 lakh members across the world.

The top religious leader of the community is known as the Dai-al-Mutlaq. As per faith and Dawoodi Bohra doctrine, a successor is appointed through “divine inspiration”. A “nass” (conferment of succession) can be conferred upon any deserving member of the community and not necessarily a family member of the current Dai, although the latter is often the practice.

Details On The Suit

The suit, filed in 2014, sought to restrain Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin from acting as the Dai-al-Mutlaq. It also sought entry to Saifi Manzil, the house of the Syedna in Mumbai, alleging that Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin had taken over the leadership role in a “fraudulent manner”.

Khuzaima Qutbuddin had claimed that the late Syedna conferred nass on him on Dec 10, 1965. He claimed that the late Syedna had asked him to keep the private nass a secret. He claimed that he had abided by the oath of secrecy given to him by the 52nd Dai till his death. It was only after his nephew took over the post of Dai did he announce the nass conferred to him in 1965 and based on which he pronounced himself to be the rightful 53rd Dai of the community.

Opposing the suit, Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin claimed that the nass of 1965 lacked witnesses and could not be accepted. He further contended that the 52nd Dai had conferred nass on him in the presence of witnesses at the Bupa Cromwell hospital in London on June 4, 2011, where he was admitted after suffering a stroke. The nass was reaffirmed publicly during an event in Mumbai on June 20, 2011 and hence there could be no doubts on the appointment of Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin as the 53rd Dai of the Dawoodi Bohra community after the demise of the 52nd Dai.

Thirteen witnesses deposed on his behalf.

He further contended that as per established and prevalent doctrines of the Dawoodi Bohra faith, nass could be changed and revoked. Even if nass had been conferred on Qutubbin in 1965, as per the doctrinal belief of the community, only the last nass would be valid.

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