Problems continue for lawyer who lost copyright battle with Aga Khan

A Toronto lawyer has been ordered to stop selling copies of speeches given by the Aga Khan, bringing a long saga to an end.

Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington found Alnaz Jiwa, a Scarborough lawyer, and his co-defendant Nagib Tajdin had breached the Aga Khan’s copyright by reprinting copies of his religious teachings and that he had never given his consent to the publication.

In the decision, Harrington noted the absolute loyalty the defendants, as Ismailis, claimed to profess to their spiritual leader.

“In their devotion to him, all he has to do is say the word and they will cease and desist,” Harrington wrote. “However, they have placed so many conditions on this word that this lawsuit was taken in frustration. Thus, we are now in the realm of civil law, not religion.”

Tajdin claimed the Aga Khan told him to “continue what you are doing” during a 1992 ceremony in Montreal in which the book was presented to him. But Harrington found the encounter, which actually involved an associate of Tajdin’s and in which the book was never opened, couldn’t be construed as consent.

Jiwa and Tajdin claimed letters sent by the Aga Khan asking them to cease publication were forgeries, insisting in their statements of defence that the religious leader wasn’t the person behind the action.

Even a personal 15-minute audience with the Aga Khan wasn’t enough to clear up the confusion. During the meeting, Jiwa waived his right to examine the imam for discovery, and Tajdin failed to ask any questions on the record.

“I can only infer that the proper questions were not asked because the defendants would not have liked the answers,” Harrington wrote. “I consider the position of the defendants to be completely unacceptable. They cannot force a trial and thus take up finite judicial resources by refusing to conduct a meaningful examination for discovery.”

The problems continue for Jiwa, who will appear in court later this month to face a charge of assault with a weapon related to an incident at a Markham, Ont., mosque. Jiwa claims he was attacked by a member of a group that objects to his conduct in the lawsuit with the Aga Khan.

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