Dina Wadia, the only daughter of Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has argued that her father had not left any will behind, and that he was a Khoja Shia and hence governed by Hindu Succession Law.
Khoja Shias are not governed by the law of Shariah, which says the property of a Muslim who dies without a will goes to his or her siblings. Wadia (90) had approached the Bombay High Court in 2007, claiming rights on her father’s bungalow in south Mumbai’s plush Malabar Hill area.
On Friday, a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice J P Devdhar heard final arguments in Wadia’s petition, argued by senior counsel Fali Nariman. “Mohammad Ali Jinnah had not left any will, neither original nor a certified copy,” said Nariman.
Jinnah’s sister Fatema has claimed he had bequeathed his property to her through a will dated May 30, 1939, but that will was not probated (certified as official) either in the Bombay High Court or anywhere in Pakistan.
Nariman also argued that the Centre had wrongly declared the heritage property as Evacuee property under the Bombay Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act, 1949. “Jinnah died in September 1948, before the Evacuee Properties Act was enacted in India,” said Nariman.
“So neither could he be declared an Evacuee nor his property declared Evacuee property.”
Wadia, mother of industrialist Nusli Wadia, has staked her claim to the 10,000-sq-metre property built by Jinnah in 1917. She alleged the Centre’s move to take over the property was illegal. She is now settled in the UK.
Several other nephews and nieces of Jinnah have also claimed their right to Jinnah House.
Mohammed Ibrahim, Jinnah’s grand-nephew has, along with his son Shakir Ibrahim, moved the HC claiming a share in the property under the provisions of Muslim law.