Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Kashmir 1936

Muhammad Ali Jinnah had arrived in Kashmir during the summer of 1936 (he had made a few visits before) . He must have been happy seeing the change of the political system and the power of Kashmiris movement for Freedom from the Tyranny of the Dogras. As 1931 had been a turning point in the Self belief and Self Determination of the oppressed and subjugated Kashmiris.

There is this legendary case which is still fresh in the old folk of Kashmiris. Many elderly persons talk on the parapets of Kashmir about how Jinnah with his charm and charisma single handedly changed the verdict without even studying the case. The Case was of Hanifa Begum versus the State.

One Mirza Ali, Sub Inspector, and his wife Hanifa Begum were booked under Section 494 Penal Code. He was accused of marrying an already married woman. Jinnah was hesitant to take up the case because he was on holidays but the accused (Mirza Ali) persuaded the Quaid by narrating his contribution to the Freedom Struggle and him being a Staunch Loyalist of Muslim League. It is said that Mirza Ali was instrumental in destroying the vital Sanghram Bridge in order to obstruct the movement of Dogra Soldiers. Quaid Agreed to take up the case but refused to take any Fee. Quaid told him to give him the Case-Papers one day advance of the date fixed for prosecution. As Quaid wanted to spend his holidays and Mirza Ali was puzzled and dumbfounded. It is obvious that Quaid-e-Azam had solved the case the moment he heard the facts about it.

Hanifa’s First Husband had been killed in a police firing in 1931. She had them been married to one Abdul Kabir and subsequently to Mirza Ali. Kabir had filed a complaint after a lapse of three tears. As Islam provides a waiting period of Four Months and ten days or 130 days for a widow to remarry this is known as “Iddat”. Kabir’s defense had plead that the complainant’s marriage had taken place during Iddat and was therefore invalid had been rejected by the sub courts. The trial court had acquitted Mirza Ali for want of knowledge but Convicted Hanifa Begum. It appeared on facts that it was a lost case for Hanifa. But there was huge excitement amongst the people especially in the legal circles as to why Jinnah a Great Barrister taken up such a hopeless and lost case, that too without charging a penny.

The Court was flooded with people from every section. Students skipped classes, Government Employees took up leave, and Shop keepers closed their shops just to know how Jinnah would create a Miracle. Quaid-e-Azam came without any books, a very unusual sight in those days. Hearts sunk and pulse shot up to find him without any case-law. His address was brief and specific. He surprised everyone when he by conceding for the purpose of argument that the relevant date advanced by the prosecution was correct. People were shocked and their heart beats were pumping hard. The court had a gloomy silence. They exchanged bewildered looks, but what he said next made everyone awestruck. The Audience gave a huge roar when Jinnah argued that the period of four months and ten days can be counted in months, only when death occurs on the IST of the lunar month but otherwise it had to be counted as 130 days. By the latter calculation the marriage of the lady with the complainant (Abdul Kabir) was within "Iddat" and hence not a valid one.

What actually happened in the court during arguments is not known but is remembered as a legend that after the Quaid-e-Azam said that counting of months applied only when death takes place on the appearance of the crescent moon and in all the other cases, it was to be 130 days, the Chief Justice asked:

“Mr. Jinnah is there any authority?”

Jinnah: “My lord, I am the authority”,

Jinnah won the case and the rest is History!

© The Kashmirian.