NEW DELHI :
New Delhi :
The Nizam of Hyderabad’s Rs 310 crore lying locked up in a UK bank due to a dispute between India, Pakistan and his family for the last 68 years is likely to be opened soon. According to government sources, the final arguments in the case continued for five days in the High Court Chancery in London and judgment has been reserved.
“The case came up for hearing in Justice Henderson’s court on March 2, 3, 4, 7 and final argument was on March 17. We are hopeful that a judgment in the case will be pronounced soon,” a source said.
The dispute has its genesis in a 1948 transfer of GBP 1 million from Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan’s account in Westminster Bank (now NatWest Bank) to the account of then Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ibrahim Rahimtoohla. The fund was allegedly transferred by the nizam’s finance minister without Khan’s knowledge. After the State of Hyderabad was annexed to India, the nizam brought a civil action against his finance minister and Rahimtoohla for illegal transaction.
House of Lords after Pakistan claimed sovereign immunity. In subsequent years, attempts to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels failed due to conflicting claims of beneficial entitlement to the funds by three parties: Pakistan, India and the nizam’s heirs. The bank also made it clear that it will not release the money unless the British court passes an order directing it to do so. The government ofIndia had also participated in discussions with Pakistan since 1958 at various levels. According to sources, it figured in almost all foreign secretary-level meetings between India and Pakistan.
“The last such meeting was held on July 5, 2012, but no out of court settlement was reached. Pakistan was not too keen to even respond to our positive approach,” the source said.
On April 3, 2013, the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK proposed to initiate a civil action against the bank for releasing the money, which is now worth Rs 310 crore, saying it indisputably has the legal title over the nizam’s money. On November 23, 2013, it again approached the court serving a notice of discontinuance of the proceedings, which the court had observed as abuse of legal process.
“In serving the notice of discontinuance, Pakistan was abusing the process of the court. The abuse lay in seeking to achieve a tactical advantage, which would place Pakistan in a better position than that to which it had already voluntarily submitted by bringing its action against the bank,” the court’s observation on January 16, 2015, stated.
Claims have also been put forward over the years by or on behalf of members of the Nizam’s extended family.
Though the bank refused to release the money without an order from the English court, it continued to send bank statements to the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, solicitors for the High Commissioner for India in London and nizam’s heirs.
The money trail
■ The nizam’s Rs 310 crore is locked up in NatWest Bank
■ In 1948, the nizam’s finance minister transferred GBP 1 million to the account of then Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK without permission
■ The Nizam brought a civil action against his finance minister
■ The money is claimed by Pakistan, India and the nizam’s heirs
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> The Sunday Standard / by Yatish Yadav / March 27th, 2016