The story behind the landmark…
Even from a distance one can see the Saifee Hospital building, still under construction, outlined against the Mumbai skyline. For Mumbaikars, it has become a point of curious interest – a 14 level multi-specialty hospital with state-of-the-art technology. Behind this magnificent edifice lies a history of 23 years, which in itself speaks volumes of the commitment of Syedna Taher Saifuddin (RA) and thereafter Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (RA) to serve humanity and spread the noble cause of philanthropy without barriers of caste, creed or religion.
In 1886, the Collector of Bombay, at the request of Adamji Peerbhoy, granted lease of a plot of land at Queens Road for 99 years. Adamji Peerbhoy used this land for a Masjid and also constructed a building with 3 wings for charitable purposes. In 1927, a suit was filed in the Bombay High Court for declaring this property as Trust property since it was used for charitable religious objects for the benefit of the Dawoodi Bohra Community. In 1931, the High Court sanctioned a scheme for the Trust, which since then came to be known as Sir Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium Trust.
In 1944, the 3rd wing of the property was given to the Polish Red Cross Hospital to run a war hospital. After the departure of the Polish Red Cross, Syedna Taher Saifuddin (RA) expressed the wish that the hospital should continue to operate. Hence, a society called the Saifee Hospital Society was registered with the object to give medical help to the members of the Dawoodi Bohra Community. The Society started running the hospital in the 3rd wing. The Saifee Hospital Society was later registered as Saifee Hospital Trust in 1973.
Sir Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium Trust and the Saifee Hospital Society now existed side by side in the same complex.
The issue of nass was a bone of contention once again. Though the Bombay High Court had given its verdict, it was re-opened and re-agitated. The Privy Council decided in favor of Syedna (RA).
- To change the objects of Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium Trust so that the hospital which was proposed to be built would be open to all. The Trustees of Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium Trust held that reserving the benefit of the proposed hospital to the Dawoodi Bohra Community only would not serve the need of the hour.
- To permit demolition of the existing three structures.
- To authorize the trustees to build a hospital upon the Trust’s land.
- To authorize the Trustees to execute a sub-lease of the land in favor of Saifee Hospital Trust for the purpose of constructing a hospital
The great grandsons of Adamji Peerbhoy held that the Trustees of Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium Trust had throughout acted against the interests of the Trust so as to bring about complete destruction of the Sanatorium Trust and its property and assets. They were opposed to a change in the objects of the Trust and the construction of a hospital as they felt that building a hospital would entail closing down the sanatorium and Adamji Peerbhoy’s dargah which would destroy the memory of Adamji Peerbhoy.
In 1991, the Bombay City Civil Court granted the application filed for amendment in the objects of Adamji Peerbhoy Sanitorium Trust. The matter went from court to court and there was a long drawn out legal battle spanning over many years. Finally the grandsons of Adamjee Peerbhoy filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court upheld the orders of the City Civil Court at Bombay as modified by the Order of the Bombay High Court except as modified by a few directions, some of which are summarized below:
- 23 beds in the proposed Saifee Hospital shall be reserved for treatment of members of the Dawoodi Bohra Community free of charge, and 7 beds in the proposed Saifee Hospital shall be reserved for those persons who claim to be Dawoodi Bohras but have not taken Misaq and this reservation will be for them regardless of whether they have been ex-communicated or not.
- A sanatorium wing is to be built and the cost of the construction of the Sanatorium building will be borne by Saifee Hospital Trust. The entire maintenance of the Sanatorium as also the Tomb of Adamji Peerbhoy and the open space shall be borne by Saifee Hospital Trust in the same manner as of the hospital.
- The gates and entrances to the Hospital portion of the building will bear the name of Saifee Hospital and the gates and entrances to the Sanatorium and Masjid portion of the building shall bear only the name of Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium in letters of equal size and prominence.
With the decision of the Supreme Court, the vision of Syedna Taher Saifuddin (RA) to build a hospital open to all would finally come to fruition. Community members rejoiced at the thought that the desire of Syedna Taher Saifuddin (RA) would be realized. Under the guidance and directions of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (RA), demolition of the entire property was undertaken in the year 2000, and the foundation of Saifee Hospital was laid by Huzurala (RA) on 14th October, 2000 corresponding to 16th Rajab 1421 H. The commissioning of the hospital in the first quarter of 2005 will indeed be a fitting culmination to years of strife for a noble cause