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Nizam’s £35M belong to his descendants, India, says UK Court

The ruling ends over 70 years legal dispute over the beneficiary of the funds the Nizam sought back after his kingdom became part of India.

ET Bureau & Agencies|
Oct 03, 2019, 08.02 AM IST
justice bccl
New Delhi | London | Islamabad: The UK High Court has ruled that funds Hyderabad’s Nizam Osman Ali Khan transferred to the high commissioner of Pakistan in Britain in 1948, now worth around 35 million pounds, belongs to India while dismissing Pakistan's claim over it.

The ruling, incidentally on the 150thbirth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, ends over 70 years legal dispute over the beneficiary of the funds the Nizam sought back after his kingdom became part of India.
In his judgment at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Justice Marcus Smith ruled, “Nizam VII was beneficially entitled to the fund and those claiming in right of Nizam VII — the princes and India — are entitled to have the sum paid out to their order. Pakistan's contentions of non-justiciability by reason of the foreign act of state doctrine and non-enforceability on grounds of illegality both fail.”

The titular eighth Nizam, Prince Mukarram Jah, and his younger brother Muffakham Jah, joined hands with the Indian government last year in the legal battle against Pakistan for possession of 35 million pounds in London’s NatWest Bank. The bank has been safekeeping the funds, deposited in the account of then Pakistan High Commissioner Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, until establishment of its rightful legal owner.

The Nizam had transferred 1,007,940 pounds and nine shillings in 1948 to the high commissioner on the assumption of the possibility of joining Pakistan. The amount has since grown into 35 million pounds as the Nizam's descendants, supported by India, claimed it belonged to them and Pakistan counter-claimed it was rightfully its. “We are delighted that today's judgment recognises Nizam VIII’s rights to funds which have been indispute since 1948. Our client was still a child when the dispute first arose and is now in his 80s. It is a great relief to see this dispute finally resolved in his lifetime,” said Paul Hewitt, partner in Withers LLP, who acted for the titular prince since Pakistan issued proceedings in 2013.

“Justice Smith's judgment covers a complex historical and legal set of issues, interpreting facts and events that occurred 70 years ago to establish that the funds, which now amount to 35 million, were always held in trust for our client's grandfather, the seventh Nizam. The judgment also makes important findings on justiciability and whether a nation state can be a trustee,” he noted. “Pakistan is closely examining all aspects of the detailed judgment and will take further action in light of legal advice received,” the foreign office said in Islamabad.

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