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Business News/ News / India/  Bombay High Court rejects suit challenging Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin's succession as Dawoodi Bohra religious head

Bombay High Court rejects suit challenging Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin's succession as Dawoodi Bohra religious head

The Bombay High Court dismissed a suit challenging Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin's leadership as the 53rd Dai-al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Bombay High Court (Photo: Reuters)Premium
Bombay High Court (Photo: Reuters)

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed a 2014 suit challenging the position and appointment of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin as the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra Community.

As reported by PTI, the court has “only decided on the issue of proof and not faith," a single bench of Justice Gautam Patel said, while dismissing the suit originally filed by Khuzaima Qutbuddin after the death of his brother and former Syedna, Mohammed Burhanuddin, in January 2014 at the age of 102.

After the passing of Burhanuddin, his second son, Mufaddal Saifuddin, became the Syedna of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

In 2016, following the death of Khuzaima Qutbuddin, his son Taher Fakhriddin continued a legal suit, asserting that his father had been given the authority by a secret "nass" (succession conferment) to be the Syedna's successor. The lawsuit aimed to prevent Saifuddin from carrying out his responsibilities as Syedna, PTI reported.

Qutbuddin claimed that his brother, Burhanuddin, had appointed him as mazoon (second-in-command) and privately anointed him as the successor through a secret conferment of succession before the formal mazoon announcement on December 10, 1965.

Fakhruddin claimed that his father before dying conferred and appointed him for the position.

Justice Patel, while dismissing the suit, said, "I don't want any upheavals. I have kept the judgment as neutral as possible. I have only decided on the issue of proof and not faith."

The Dawoodi Bohras are a religious denomination among Shia Muslims.

Traditionally a community of traders and entrepreneurs, it has more than 5 lakh members in India and over 10 lakh across the world.

The community's top religious leader is known as the Dai-al-Mutlaq (most senior).

As per faith and Dawoodi Bohra doctrine, a successor is appointed through “divine inspiration".

A "nass" can be conferred upon any deserving member of the community and not necessarily a family member of current Dai, although the latter is often the practice.

The suit had sought the HC to restrain 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 Mufaddal Saifuddin had taken over the leadership role in a "fraudulent manner".

Qutbuddin claimed that after Burhanuddin became the new Dai-al-Mutlaq, taking over from his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin in 1965, he publicly appointed his half-brother as the mazoon (second in command) and privately anointed him as his successor through a secret nass.

Burhanuddin allegedly asked Qutbuddin to keep the private "nass" (succession conferment) a secret, and Qutbuddin claimed he honoured the oath of secrecy until his death.

Syedna Saifuddin contested the lawsuit, arguing that the 1965 "nass" had no witnesses and couldn't be recognized. He asserted that, according to the established doctrines of the Dawoodi Bohra faith, a "nass" could be changed or revoked.

According to Syedna Saifuddin, on June 4, 2011, the 52nd Dai conferred "nass" on him in front of witnesses at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London, where Burhanuddin was receiving treatment following a stroke.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 23 Apr 2024, 12:17 PM IST
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