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Princess Shafiya drags Centre to court over secret pact

There was a bitter battle in the Courts in England regarding the ownership of the money which has now shot up to about £35 million.

HYDERABAD: Princess Shafiya Sakina, the great granddaughter of the Nizam VII, has approached the Telangana High Court with a plea to declare as illegal the Centre’s action of entering into a secret settlement with Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur and Prince Muffakham Jah Bahadur with respect to £35 million. 

The amount is held in an account at the NatWest Bank in London, she has stated. In terms of such settlement, the Union of India and two others have withdrawn £34.5 million, leaving behind only a paltry amount of £5 lakh to be distributed among the other so called “heirs of the Nizam VII”, she noted.

In her petition, Princess Shafiya submitted that she is one of the great granddaughters of the Nizam VII — late Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur — and the granddaughter of late Waleshan Prince Moazam Jah Bahadur. She is also the beneficiary of the Mozazam Jah Trust and is recognised as one of the beneficiaries of the Nizam’s trust. 

After the Nizam VII surrendered to the Union of India on September 17, 1948, the then Finance Minister Moin Nawaz Jung and External Affairs Minister had caused the sum of about £1 million to be transferred from an account of the Government of Hyderabad held at the Westminster Bank to an account in the name of Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, also at the same bank.

There was a bitter battle in the Courts in England regarding the ownership of the money which has now shot up to about £35 million. The court held that the amount was “either a constructive trust in favour of the Nizam VII or a resulting trust in favour of the Nizam VII”. 

The said secret settlement was also recorded in the judgment, it stated. The Union of India and two others have appropriated between themselves more than 98 per cent of the total amount, Princess Shafiya stated. 

This leaves the other ‘heirs’ of the Nizam VII with only a paltry five lakh pounds, she said and sought a court direction to the Centre and others concerned to redeposit the £34.5 million into any nationalised bank. The Union Cabinet Secretary, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance-cum-ex-officio chairman of the Nizam’s Jewellery Trust, secretary to the Nizam’s trusts and two others have been named as respondents.

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