Qutbuddin tells HC that Syedna had appointed him as successor

Mumbai: Khuzaima Qutbuddin, claimant for the position 'Dai Al-Mutlaq' (head of Dawoodi Bohra community), today told the Bombay High Court that his half- brother and late 52nd Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin had appointed him as 'Mazoon' (second in command) before he died.

"The late Syedna had also issued a sermon at that time that I was a beloved son....this signifies that I was his successor," said Qutbuddin who has challenged the succession of Muffadal Saifuddin, Syedna's son, as the 53rd Dai. Qutbuddin (74), who has filed a suit seeking that he be declared the 53rd Syedna, was being cross-examined by the lawyer of present Syedna, Muffadal Saifuddin. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin died on January 17, 2014.

Qutbuddin stated that the late 52nd Dai, had on December 10, 1965, conferred a 'nass' (process for appointing a successor) on him. However, he had not made it public and told him to keep it a secret.
To Saifuddin's argument that there was no witness to the 'nass', Qutbuddin said that he himself was a witness.

Other than Syed Saleh Bhaisaheb (the third in command after the Syedna and called as 'Mukasir'), others may have also known about conferring of the 'nass' on him because they accorded more respect to him thereafter, he added. Qutbuddin alleged that his brother late Yusuf bhaisaheb Najmuddin, who is the father-in-law of the incumbent Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin, and other brothers, their sons and daughters and supporters had 'schemed' to 'malign' his image.

"From 1961-62, Yusuf Bhaisaheb felt slighted and jealous. Yusufbhai personally told me that he was jealous of me... because I had attained such a high position at a young age," he alleged.

"Since 1980, defendant (Saifuddin) and his brothers Qaid Joher, Malik-ul-Ashtar, Idris, and sons of Yusuf bhaisaheb Badrul Jamali, Kausar Ali, Saeedur Khair and daughters Jawharut Sharaf and Maria started implementing a devious scheme to malign me....This was 20-25 years after the beginning of the reign of the 52nd Dai. This is also mentioned in the suit," said Qutbuddin.

There were two attempts on his life in Indore and Yemen, he said, though clarifying that there was no involvement of the defendants in them. Senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, Saifuddin's lawyer, who conducted the cross-examination, suggested that this claim of assassination attempts was "incorrect." However, Qutbuddin stood by his statement.

In June 2011, Mufaddal Saifuddin was nominated the successor, according to a statement issued by the community. Qutbuddin publicly challenged the succession for the first time after death of Burhanuddin on January 17 last year. He claimed that he had not challenged the "false claims" made by Syedna Mufaddal until then because he (Qutbuddin) had been asked to maintain his appointment secret by the late Syedna Burhanuddin Saheb.

He also claimed that he had prayed and hoped that Syedna Burhanuddin Saheb would recover from illness and set the record straight. Justice Gautam Patel would continue to hear the case tomorrow when it would be decided whether the cross-examination would continue.

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