Saturday 5 October 2019 3:24 AM UTC
LONDON Oct 5: A family of Indian royals has won a legal battle against Pakistan over £35 million that was deposited in the high commissioner’s UK account in 1948.
The original sum of £1 million had been deposited by the last Nizam (king) of Hyderabad, and interest collected on the deposit means that the total has now reached £35 million.
A judge at the High Court in London ruled that there was no evidence to back Pakistan’s claims to the money.
The dispute is said to date back to the 1947 partitioning of British India when the princely state of Hyderabad was annexed in a military operation.
The cash transfer had been made shortly before that and the BBC reported that the Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, had not been able to decide if his state should belong to Pakistan or India.
His descendants have since alleged that he had asked for the money to be returned weeks after the annexation took place –but that Pakistan refused to give it back.
Both his family and the Indian state has helped fight the case and the National Westminster Bank, where the funds were being held, refused to release the money until it was decided by court who it should be given to.
A letter from Hyderabad’s finance minister to the commissioner at the time said they would have been ‘grateful for the transfer, in view of the situation in Hyderabad’.
Who was Mir Osman Ali Khan
Mir Osman Ali Khan was an absolute monarch who ruled the state of Hyderabad from 1911 to 1948.
He was one of the wealthiest people of all time and was said to have been worth a staggering £187 billion ($230bn).
During his rule he introduced railways, roads and started to develop airways.
After India gained independence in 1947 he didn’t want to accede his state to the newly formed nation.
A year later the Indian army invaded and he was forced to surrender.
Between 1950 and 1956 he was the Rajpramukh of the state.
He died in 1967.
Pakistan had argued that the money should be given to them in order to procure arms, but the court determined it had right to rule, due to the fact that the money had been deposited in a British account.
The nizam was an absolute monarch who ruled between 1911 and 1948 when it was pre-independent of India.
A lawyer for one of the grandsons told the BBC that the family is pleased with the long awaited judgement.
Paul Hewitt said: ‘The court today made it clear that it did not think the money was handed to Pakistan outright. There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan only held the money as a trustee and it actually belonged to the Nizam.’
The case had begun when Mr Hewitt’s client was a child and has only just been resolved now that he is in his 80s.
He added: ‘The High Court has rightly rejected Pakistan’s claim. The family has long awaited this judgement.’
In a press statement, India’s foreign ministry also welcome the verdict.
Pakistan could yet still seek an appeal. If this is not done the money will go to the state of India and Nizam’s grandson.
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