A UK High Court judge on Wednesday (October 2) ruled in favour of India in a decades-old legal dispute with Pakistan regarding funds belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad.
The Nizam owned these funds during the time of Partition in 1947 and had deposited it in a London bank account. Prince Mukarram Jah, the eighth titular Nizam of Hyderabad and Muffakham Jah, his younger brother are the Nizam’s descendants. They joined hands with the Indian government in the legal battle against the Pakistan government.
The funds, which are said to be over around 35 million pounds, are lying with National Westminster Bank plc (public limited company) in London, commonly known as NatWest Bank.
In the High Court’s judgment handed out at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Justice Marcus Smith ruled that the “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 verdict had stated.
The dispute revolves around 1,007,940 pounds and nine shillings transferred in 1948 from the then Nizam of Hyderabad to the high commissioner in Britain of the newly-formed state of Pakistan.
The amount has grown since into 35 million pounds as the Nizam’s descendants, supported by India, claimed that it belongs to them and Pakistan counter-claimed that it is rightfully theirs.
“We are delighted that today’s judgment recognises His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam’s rights to funds which have been in dispute 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, who is a partner in Withers LLP and has taken up the case for the VIII Nizam since Pakistan issued proceedings in 2013.
Withers LLP, also known as Withersworldwide, is an international law firm that has its headquarters in London.
(With inputs from agencies)