From the past 68 years, the fate of £35 million belonging to the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osama Ali Khan, is indecisive. Soon after the partition, due to the unsettled dispute between Pakistan, India and heirs of Nizam, The Natwest Bank, London, froze the account. Since then, both the countries have made numerous claims resulting in complexity in concluding the dispute. After numerous hearings and discussion finally, the dispute is edging towards the conclusion. Recently, on 21st June, British High Court rejected India’s claim over £35 million in favor of Pakistan.
Judge Henderson J led the preliminary hearing, on Tuesday, issuing a 75-page pretrial order in British High Court. According to the different statements in the order, the position of Pakistan was quite tenable. Although it was a pre-trial order yet Pakistan accepted it as a victory for its legal team.
Pakistan’s legal team, led by Khawar Qureshi, placed cogent evidence and strong legal arguments before the judge. The team defeated the Indian argument that Pakistan’s claim to the fund was not valid. However, the Indian government dismissed the claim of Pakistan on the money. According to them, it’s premature to jump to any conclusion as a full trial is yet to be held in British High Court.
History of the Case
This dispute leads us back to September 1948, when ₤1 million were transferred to the then high commissioner of Pakistan, Ibrahim Rahimtoohla, from the Nizam’s account in Westminster Bank, now known as The Natwest Bank, London. Indians claim that the funds were transferred by the agent of the Nizam, General Nawab Fazal Jung Bahadur, without any prior knowledge.
At the time of partition, 552 princely states were given the option either to join Pakistan or India or remain independent, and Hyderabad was one of them. The then Nizam of Hyderabad decided to stay independent. But soon after the death of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Indian government launched a military operation, Operation Polo, invading the remote states of the subcontinent. The operation was led by the then Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Do you know: Cyril Radcliffe, the man who designed the border between the two countries, arrived in India only a few days before the partition and had no knowledge about anything except the geographical layout of the country (Source: Scoopwhoop)
They pressurized the Nizam to join India, and when he showed some resistance, they cut off the medical and food supplies to the region of Hyderabad. The Nizam was left with no other option but to surrender. During the hearing, considering the evidence and statements by both the parties, the judge concluded that, back then, the circumstances were quite tense as the food and medical supplies were cut off to Hyderabad. The Nizam might ask for help instead of the money. At that time, the amount transferred was £1 million which has now risen to £35 million in current times.
In July 2015, Pakistan offered India a settlement for both the countries by suggesting a middle way. But India apparently rejected the offer by claiming that the stance of Pakistan is not valid. So, now the case is proceeding towards a final trail as no settlement strategy has opted in the past 68 years. India will be facing substantial costs claim as a result of losing its applications.
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