LONDON: A United Kingdom high court has said that the £35 million held in a London bank account would go to the descendants of the Indian royal Nizam of Hyderabad and not to Pakistan.
The United Kingdom high court ruled in favour of the descendants of the Indian royal Nizam of Hyderabad and handed out the judgment at the Rolls Building.
The ruling was headed by Justice Marcus Smith and said that Pakistan lacked evidence to prove its claim to the money.
Pakistan had presented evidence that it had been given the money by nizam in order to procure arms, but the court determined it had the right to rule in the case.
The court said that the money had been deposited in a British bank account and the heirs had a case. The sons of the nizam argued that Pakistan only held the money as a trustee and it actually belonged to them as they were the legal beneficiaries.
Pakistan claimed that the fund belongs to its government as the money was transferred to compensate for the weapons it provided to the nizam before Hyderabad’s annexation in 1948. It had also said that the fund was sent to keep it out of India’s possession.
The judge said there was no evidence that suggests the money in the NatWest bank was given for the purchase of the arms.
The court dismissed Pakistan’s argument that Hyderabad was illegally annexed, saying any such alleged illegality would, in any case, be irrelevant to the claim.
Commenting on the ruling, the Foreign Office (FO) in Islamabad said it would take further action after examining the detailed judgment.
The FO said that the judgment has rejected the longstanding claims of the two major parties and upheld the claims of the heirs of Nizam of Hyderabad.
A statement, issued by the FO said, “The ruling does not take into account the historical context of the transfer when India illegally annexed Hyderabad in violation of international law and all civilised norms, leading the Nizam of Hyderabad to make desperate efforts to defend his people and the state from Indian invasion.”
The FO added that the nizam also raised the matter with the UN Security Council where the issue remains on the agenda to date. The Nizam as a sovereign approached Pakistan for assistance which the government provided.
The statement added, “Pakistan is closely examining all aspects of the detailed judgment and will take further action in light of legal advice received.”
The dispute started in 1948 when the last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan deposited £1m in a London bank account, held by the then Pakistan high commissioner, for safe-keeping.
He had deposited the money as he didn’t trust India and requested Pakistan to keep money for him. The seventh Nizam of Hyderabad had refused to join either India or Pakistan.
Hyderabad in 1947-48 was a princely state and was taken over by India in 1948 in a military operation. The nizam had transferred money to London shortly before the annexation.
The descendants of Nizam (Mukarram Jah, the titular eighth Nizam of Hyderabad and his younger brother Muffakham Jah) had joined hands with the Indian government in the legal battle against Pakistan.
The seventh Nizam had sought the return of the funds in the 1950s, claiming that the transfer had been made without his authority.