Over a year after the High Court of England and Wales rejected Pakistan’s claim to 35 million pounds in a seven-decades-old ‘Hyderabad Fund Case’, and ruled in favour of India and the Nizam VII, Nawab Osman Ali Khan Bahadur’s grandsons’ – Mufakkam and Mukkaram Jah, the legal battle appears to be far from over.
Najaf Ali Khan, a grandson of the Nizam, has decided to take his cousins, the two princes, to court, accusing them of fraud and misappropriation of funds, among other serious charges. Mir Osman Ali Khan had 16 sons and 18 daughters.
He claims that the two princes presented a certificate issued by the Government of India in February 1967, which recognised Prince Mukkarram Jah alias Barkat Ali Khan as the Nizam VIII of Hyderabad, during the court proceedings. The Certificate, he said, was quashed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1968 and Delhi High Court in 1969. “The 26th Amendment to the Indian Constitution added Article 363A substituting Article 366 clause . Hence the recognition to erstwhile Rulers or successors of Rulers ceased to exist,” he said.
According to him, using this invalid certificate of recognition as the Nizam VIII was a violation of the Constitution of India and deprived the rest of the family members, who are over 100 of them, of their legitimate right to the 35 million pounds (Rs 307 crore) lying in the UK’s National Westminster Bank.
In September 1948, when the Nizam’s dominion of Hyderabad was being acceded to the Union of India through Operation Polo, Nawab Moin Nawaz Jung who worked as the finance minister to the Hyderabad State had transferred 1 million pounds to Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, the then high commissioner of Pakistan to the UK. As the transfer was rendered unauthorised by the Nizam, the National Westminster Bank froze the funds until the rightful claim was established. The amount locked up in the bank amounted to Rs 307 crore at the time of delivery of judgment in favour of India and the two Princes in October 2019.
Pakistan claimed that the money was transferred to the then newly-formed Islamic country as payment for the supply of weapons to the then Hyderabad State to fight Indian forces. The court had found no evidence to support the claims by Pakistan. It also found that the transfer of funds was not authorised by the Nizam.
Until July 2020, Najaf Ali Khan says, he was not aware that the invalid certificate of recognition was used in the proceedings before the UK High Court. Khan pointed out that since Prince Mukkarram Jah was not the Ruler of Hyderabad or the titular Nizam VIII, he was like any other ordinary citizen and therefore the Personal Law of Inheritance ie; Shariat Law, was applicable in the matter of inheritance in the Hyderabad Fund Case, too.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Khan said the two Princes and their families have violated the Indian Constitution and caused irreparable damage to the rights of other family members. “They have irrevocably harmed the rightful monetary claims of the family and thus affected so many of us by using an invalid certificate to further their false claims. For all this damage and the violation of the law, we request the Indian government to penalise them accordingly,” he said.
He said he would seek all available legal remedies against those who provided the invalid certificate to the Administrator of the Estate of Nizam VII.
Quoting a recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2019 Talat Fathima Vs. Nawab Syed Murtaza Ali, he said that the legal position is established that the Rulers are ordinary citizens of India and Personal Law of Inheritance shall be applicable regarding private properties. The Rulers cannot claim to be the absolute owner of private properties in exclusion of other legal heirs, he said.
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