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Jinnah's daughter approaches High Court

india Updated: Aug 17, 2007 11:15 IST
Urvi Mahajani
Urvi Mahajani
Hindustan Times
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Background

* Jinnah House was built in 1936 at an exorbitant price of Rs 2 lakh (2,00,000), when Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England to take charge of the Muslim League.

* Now worth around Rs 2000 crores the house is the subject of a dispute between India, the government of Pakistan and Jinnah's daughter.

* The bungalow is located on Mount Pleasant Road (now Bhausaheb Hirey Marg) in the upmarket Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai.

* Designed by architect Claude Batley in the European-style architecture, the sea facing palatial bungalow is constructed using exquisite Italian marble and walnut woodwork.

Its been nearly quarter of a century that 88-year-old Dina Wadia has been fighting to acquire her father's bungalow situated at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai opposite the Chief Minister's official residence.



Dina, daughter of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, has been writing to the Indian government and to the Pakistan government since 1982 to hand over the possession of the Jinnah House, which was constructed by her later father in 1917. However to no avail.



Now settled in UK, mother of businessman Nusli Wadia, has finally approached the Bombay High Court seeking that the possession of the Jinnah House should be restored to her as she is the legal heir, being the only child of Jinnah and Ratanbai.



Jinnah had constructed a sprawling bungalow spread over 10,000 square meters after the land in 1917. After marrying Ratanbai in April 1918, Dina was born on August 15, 1919.



At the time of partition, Jinnah left for Pakistan in March 1947. His sister, Fatima, also migrated to Pakistan and was declared an evacuee. After Jinnah's death on September 11, 1949, Fatima claimed that Jinnah had bequeathed the House to her and she and her husband Liyaqat Ali Khan were executors and trustees of Jinnah's will. However, the will was not probated by the HC and hence it cannot be considered as valid, claims Dina's petition.



Dina married Neville Wadia in 1938 and later they shifted to the USA in 1960. After separating form her husband, she settled in the UK. The Bombay Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act came to into force in May 1949 and in June same year the Jinnah House was notified as the evacuee property.



In October 1954, the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act was enacted. By a notification under the DPCR Act, Union government acquired all urban immovable properties in Bombay.



In 1981, the Jinnah was leased to the British High Commission.



In 1982, Dina learnt that the Pakistan government was seeking claim of the Jinnah House "as it had sentimental values attached to millions of Pakistanis." From 1982 onwards, Dina has written several letters to the Indian government, the Prime Minister, Minister of Law and Attorney General for Pakistan seeking that she should be given her father's bungalow.



However, her efforts have been in vain.



The Pakistan government wants the bungalow as it was constructed by the founder of Pakistan. On the other hand, the Indian government does not wish to hand over the possession as it was declared as an evacuee property and the central government has the right over all the evacuee properties.



Also, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations is planning to use the Jinnah House as South India Centre for Arts and Culture, which was initially to be inaugurated on August 15.



Dina filed a petition in HC on July 31 stating that the bungalow has been lying vacant since years and no one is taking proper care of the heritage bungalow. She has prayed that the possession of the bungalow be restore to her as she is the legal heir of Jinnah.



Also, as per the Hindu Law, the only daughter is entitled to father's property over the claim of sister. Even the Shia law, the daughter is considered as the successor of the property. Both Jinnah and Ratanbai were Khoja Shias.



The Bombay High Court will hear the matter on September 4.