Judges on Jinnah
Jinnah’s forensic ability also earned judicial approbation. His exposition evoked admiration from judges and juries alike; and the judgments of cases in which he appeared are replete with appreciation of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as a Lawyer 17 the skill and ability with which he conducted these cases. Professor Raza of St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, who was empaneled on various juries, portrayed him as the ‘magician with the monocle’. The professor recalled a murder case, wherein dissecting the evidence tendered by the prosecution, Mr. Jinnah at short intervals would pause and pose the question, “Is this the man?’ When the jury retired, each one asked the other, “Is this man?” All of them had no hesitation in answering that this was not the man, and they returned a unanimous verdict of ‘Not Guilty’.
Even a hostile Judge had to compliment Jinnah when the Jury, contrary to His Lordship’s directions, decided to acquit the accused in the famous Allo Rape Case at Surat. Justice Beamon, in Pestonji versus Billimoria, reaffirmed that hard cases notoriously make bad law. In that suit, the legatee had claimed the sum assigned to hint in the deceased’s Will. The defendant trustee contended that it appeared from the Will that this was not an ordinary bequest, but was intended to be no more than the satisfaction of the debt owed by the testator. Sir Jamshed Kanga wanted to lead evidence in support of this contention; but Jinnah objected on technical legal grounds. After discussing various arguments raised by both Counsels, His Lordship upheld the objection and observed:
When the case came on for trial, the first question raised was whether the defendant was entitled to lay before the Court evidence of facts alleged to have been in the testator’s mind, and, therefore, necessary to be known to the Court before it could truly apply the language used by the testator in the second clause of the Will. This was, of course, strenuously opposed by Mr. Jinnah for the plaintiff who, like most Counsels of experience, is always most insistent on a legal technicality and most ingenious, and I may say persuasive, in proportion as he feels that if his ground fails him his case is lost.
Nevertheless, after giving the matter my most anxious consideration during the whole of his argument, and the exhaustive and able reply to it by Mr. Kanga, I am still unable to free myself from the logical compulsion of the technicality upon which Mr. Jinnah has taken his stand.9 Justice Martin, in the case of Tata Industries Bank Ltd., acknowledged thus: “I have had the advantage of a very useful argument from Mr. Jinnah, in the course of which 1 believe he has drawn my attention to all the points that can be said in favor of this client.”
In the instructive case of Tricum Das Mills, the doctrine of Indoor Management and complicated questions of Company Law were involved. In his exhaustive judgment, Justice Davar stated that “in this case some very interesting and important questions of law arise for consideration.” Dealing with Jinnah’s submissions, the learned Judge commented that “Mr. Jinnah has throughout the hearing expended much labor and argued with great skill and conspicuous lucidity.” In the end, while decreeing the suit in favor of Mr. Jinnah’s client, the learned Judge could not refrain from observing that “The plaintiff must feel much indebted to the exertions of Mr. Jinnah who conducted his case, for this result of the suit.”
The same learned Judge, in the case of the Advocate General versus Fardoonji, wherein issues involved related to the doctrine of Cypress and the power of the Court to vary and alter the decree already passed, noted that “Mr. Jinnah has argued the question of the powers of the court with great care and much elaboration and cited several authorities in support of his contentious.
Justice Chandravarkar, in the case of Bibi Khaver Sultan, wherein the validity of a gift under Mohammedan Law came up for consideration, and His Highness the Aga Khan was examined as a witness, observed that “Mr. Jinnah conducted the plaintiff’s case with considerable skill and ability.” The same learned Judge, in the suit of RaghirjiVizpal, a case of pledge and lien, complimented Jinnah “for having conducted the case with his usual ability”. In the famous case of the Raja of Nanpara, at Lucknow, leading lawyers of India appeared against Jinnah. The learned Judge of the Oudh Chief Court, whose decision was upheld by their Lordships of the Privy Council, observed: “I must also express my sense of great indebtedness to Mr. Jinnah for his extremely able arguments, which were of great assistance to me in the decision of several difficult points of both fact and law involved in the case.”
Their Lordships of the Privy Council very sparingly complimented any Counsel in their judgments and decisions. Lord Thankerton, in the reported judgment of the Privy Council in Abdul Majid Khan versus Saraswati Bai, made this special mention. “The arguments of the appellant were dealt with filly and clearly by Mr. Jinnah.”
Patrick Spens, the last Chief Justice of undivided India, paid a tribute to “the tallness of the man, the immaculate manner in which he was turned out. Referring to Jinnah’s practice before the Privy Council, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as a Lawyer 19 Lord Spens said: “I think the Privy Council is the most critical. It is a friendly court, but is tremendously critical, and no one who had first class brains, a great power of advocacy, and above all great tact and politeness, would have made in so short a time such a fine practice as Mr. Jinnah did before the Privy Council.”
All India Reporter
By way of summing up, one might recall the glowing tribute paid to Jinnah by the premier Legal journal of India. The All India Reporter: “Although Mr. Jinnah’s career as a political leader and as the representative of the successful Muslim Movement for separation in India overshadows all other aspects of his life, a legal journal like this has to take note of the fact that he was a lawyer of outstanding eminence and in his death our country has lost one of its greatest lawyers.
As a brilliant advocate, he had few rivals. He was also universally recognized as a man of unimpeachable integrity, and honored by friend and foe alike for his incorruptibility. Mr. Jinnah’s name will live in history as the greatest protagonist of the two nation theory in India and the creator of Pakistan.”
Mr. Justice Davar
From the beginning Mr. Jinnah was for Independence of Judiciary. This is borne out by the following incident. After Justice Davar had sentenced Tilak to six years rigorous imprisonment, the Government conferred a knighthood upon Davar, and the Bar Association to the High Court of Bombay wanted to give him a dinner. A circular went round asking those who wanted to join the dinner to sign it. When the circular came to Jinnah, he wrote a scathing note to the effect that the Bar should be ashamed to want to give a dinner to a judge who had obtained a knighthood by doing what the Government wanted, and by sending a great patriot to jail with a savage sentence. It seems that Justice Davar came to know about this, and sent for Jinnah in his chambers. He asked Jinnah how he thought Davar had treated Jinnah in his Court. Jinnah replied that he had always been very well treated. Davar asked Jinnah next whether he had any grievance against him. Jinnah said he had none. Davar then asked: “Why did you write a note like this against me?” Jinnah replied that he wrote it because he thought it was the truth; and however well Davar might have treated him, he could not suppress his strong feeling about the manner in which he had tried Tilak’s case. All this goes to demonstrate the great regard which Jinnah had for Talik, and also the courage and the spirit of nationalism which Jinnah displayed as a young man.
Let me conclude by referring the tribute paid by Mr. Justice Muhammad Munir, former Chief Justice of Pakistan on 23 March, 1976 in the Seminar at the University of Punjab, Lahore: “I have appeared with or against or heard as a judge some of the greatest lawyers of England and India-Lawyers like Mr. Pritt Q.C., Mr. Diplock Q.C. (now the Tr. Hon’ble Lord Diplock P.C.), soft-spoken Bhulabhai Desai, aggressive K.M. Munshi, another top lawyer of Bombay. Sir Tej Bahadur Supru pronouncing Arabic Sighas in a Wakf case, Mr. Hasan Imam, many bald and grey headed veterans of the Lahore Bar. But in my long experience I have never noticed that masterly analysis, classification and presentation of facts and the lucidity and subtlety of argument which I heard in a few Bombay cases argued by Mr. Jinnah.”(Address to the Pakistan Society, London, 8 January 1960. 16. AIR, 1948 Journal, p.41. 20, M.C. Chagla, Roses in December, p.14.)
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