`I am the authority’

The Quaid impressed CJ Saberjor Lal, Justice Abdul Qayoom and Justice Seini so much that they decided the case in his favour in the very first sitting. The court room where Jinnah appeared as a lawyer needs to be protected and preserved

The lower court complex also known as Sadder Courts shall be shifted to a new place in a year or so. A new complex is coming up at Mominabad, Bypass. While, the courts need a new place for functioning properly, a court room in the Sadder Court complex is important. The authorities known for constructing parking places and shopping complexes may opt for yet another commercial complex at the place that currently houses the Sadder Court complex. And if it actually happens, Kashmir will lose a historical building.

The Sadder Court complex has the distinction of housing the court where founder of Pakistan, Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah appeared in 1936. This historical building should not be `sacrificed’ for a parking place or a shopping complex. The authorities must take care to preserve and protect the building. In fact the Jammu Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Srinagar has a role to play in preservation of the building. The Association must take up the matter now with the concerned and seek judicial intervention if necessary to protect and preserve this historical place.
The National Conference did not like Quaid-e-Azam for his political stand. Some people even accuse him of annoying Sher-e-Kashmir at a crucial juncture of Jammu Kashmir’s history. While this merits a debate, there is no harm in preserving the building especially when we can have a Gandhi Bhawan, Jawahar Nagar and Indira Gandhi Road in Kashmir.     

The case that became part of Kashmir history because of Quaid’s involvement was decided the day Jinnah appeared as a lawyer. In 1936, Jinnah visited Kashmir for the second time. His sister, Fatima Jinnah was with him.  This time he appeared as a lawyer in State v/s Haneefa Begum and Maher Ali. The Quaid impressed CJ Saberjor Lal, Justice Abdul Qayoom and Justice Seini so much that they decided the case in his favour in the very first sitting. He based his arguments on the Hijri calander. The court room was jam packed.   In the very first hearing he got the verdict in his favour. When the judge asked him to cite an authority to support his arguments, he said: “I am the authority.”
The facts of the case (State v/s Haneefa Begum) are as follows. The husband of Haneefa Begum of Islamabad got killed in a firing incident in September 1931.

Haneefa opted for second marriage. She married Abdul Kabir, a teacher by profession. The marriage did not last long and Haneefa after getting divorce got married to a police officer, Mirza Mehar Ali. After three years Abdul Kabir filed a complaint against Haneefa under sections 494 RPC (Bigamy). Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg pleaded the case on behalf of Haneefa Begum.

The trial court rejected Beg’s contention that his client’s Nikkah with Peer Abdul Kabir had taken place when she was observing iddat. An appeal was preferred in the high court. Meanwhile, Quaid-e-Azam visited Kashmir.

Sheikh Abdullah writes in his Aatish-e-Chinar: “I met Jinnah in a house boat at Shivpora, Srinagar and persuaded him to accept Mehar Ali’s brief.  But he demanded a fee of Rs 1000 per hearing which we agreed to pay.” However, Justice Yusuf Saraf of Pakistan administered Kashmir strongly denies this. According to him, Jinnah agreed to plead the case without accepting any fee when Mirza Mehar Ali apprised him of his links with Muslim League.

According to Saraf, Quaid-e-Azam accepted the brief just one day before he had to appear in the court of Chief Justice Brijorlal. Jinnah had no files or books with him which sent wrong signals to the jam packed court room. The people received a shock when Jinnah accepted the charges of the police. However, next moment the people present in the court room heaved a sigh of relief. He informed the court: “The iddat period is counted according to the lunar calendar if the husband dies on the first day of the month otherwise the woman has to count 130 days.

The Chief Justice, according to noted columnist, Tabasum Kashmiri, sought an authority to support his contention. Jinnah said, “I am the authority.” The case was decided in his favour.
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