Erstwhile Faridkot Maharaja’s daughters get majority share in his properties
The Supreme Court ended a 30-year-long fight for inheritance and declared the Maharawal Khewaji Trust, which was taking care of the properties, as “null and void”
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Punjab and Haryana high court order awarding the majority share in ₹20,000-crore properties of the erstwhile Faridkot Maharaja Harinder Singh Brar to his daughters Amrit Kaur and Deepinder Kaur. It ended a 30-year-long fight for the inheritance and declared the Maharawal Khewaji Trust, which was taking care of the properties, as “null and void”.
A bench of chief justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sidhanshu Dhulia ordered some modifications to the high court order regarding the share of the properties among the parties after reserving the order on July 28. It dissolved the Trust formed 33 years earlier.
Brar’s purported will allowed the Trust to run the affairs of royal properties. Jagir Singh Sran, the Trust’s CEO, said the court ordered the will to be invalid. “We have got oral orders and are awaiting the complete written order.”
In 2020, the Trust moved the top court against the high court order declaring Brar’s June 1, 1982, will as forged. The top court ordered status quo till the judgment in August 2020 and allowed the trust to continue as a caretaker.
In June 2020, the high court upheld a Chandigarh court’s order awarding a majority share in the ₹20,000-crore property to Amrit Kaur, who challenged the will in 1992, and Deepinder Kaur. The court said descendants of Manjit Inder Singh, the Maharaja’s brother, would get their mother Mohinder Kaur’s share.
It said the trustees conspired to create the will to take over the property. “The will is proved to be forged, fictitious, fabricated, and shrouded with suspicious circumstances,” the court said.
In 2013, the Chandigarh district court declared the will illegal and void and granted inheritance to Brar’s daughters.
Brar, who was crowned as Faridkot’s ruler aged three in 1918, was married to Narinder Kaur and the couple had three daughters, Amrit Kaur, Deepinder Kaur, and Maheepinder Kaur, and a son Tikka Harmohinder Singh.
When his son died in a road accident in 1981, Brar slipped into depression. The will was executed months later asking the Trust to take care of his properties. Brar’s wife and mother were alive then but were kept in the dark.
Maheepinder Kaur died in Shimla in 2001 under mysterious circumstances. The will, which came to light after Brar’s death in 1989, said Amrit Kaur had married against his wishes and was hence disinherited.
Amrit Kaur filed a civil suit in the district court challenging the will in 1992, saying her father could not have legally bequeathed his properties to the Trust because they were ancestral and governed by the law related to the Hindu joint family. She also questioned the authenticity of the will.
The erstwhile royal family has movable and immovable assets in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and Chandigarh. They include Rajmahal in Faridkot spread over 14 acres. A 150-bed charitable hospital has come up on a portion of the palace ground. The other properties include Faridkot’s Qila Mubarak spread over 10 acres and New Delhi’s Faridkot House located on prime land on the Copernicus Marg. The Central government has leased out the property on a monthly rent of ₹17.50 lakh. It was valued at ₹1,200 crore nine years ago.