Jinnah House, Mumbai

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A history of the dispute

Swati Deshpande, Why the new enemy property law won't apply to iconic Jinnah House, Mar 20, 2017: The Times of India

The Centre's amendment to the Enemy Property Act, 1968, has no bearing on the landmark Jinnah House, a prime property at Mumbai's Malabar Hill.The reason: The house that Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, built is an “evacuee property“ and not an “enemy property under law.

In 2010, the Bombay high court had admitted a petition by Dina Wadia, Mohammed Ali Jinnah's daughter, to stake a claim to his palatial multi-million dollar bungalow as his “only daughter and sole heir“. The petition was filed three years earlier and is still pending final disposal before the high court.

Dina then was almost 91 years old and residing in the US. She moved the high court with her “controversial“ demand. She challenged a 60-year-old notification of the Indi an government that defined Jinnah House, spread over a 2.5-acre plot, as evacuee property and took its possession.

The government says Jinnah willed his house to his sister Fatima on May 30, 1939. But Dina and her lawyers have been denying the existence of any such valid will. The dispute, though, turned into a threeway fight in 2008. The HC also admitted a petition filed by Jinnah's grand-nephew Mohammed Ebrahim and his son staking an independent claim to the House that Jinnah built.Their counsel, Yusuf Muchala, said that under Muslim Law, they were the legal heirs of Fatima Jinnah and therefore entitled to the property.

Ministry of external affairs (MEA) said that the government acquired the bungalow built by Jinnah as evacuee property and as a result, all rights of the evacuee and others stood extinguished. The MEA has said that once a property is acquired under Section 12 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitations) Act of 1954, the evacuee's rights in the property are extinguished and the evacuee is, if anything, only entitled to compensation.

“The property vests absolutely with the Central government. There is no residuary right or right of reversion in favour of either the evacuee or the evacuee's heirs,“ it said in an affidavit in the high court in 2010.

The House was sold, after acquisition, by the ministry of rehabilitation to the ministry of works and housing, for over Rs 8 lakh. The proceeds form part of the compensation pool. The MEA said the heirs have no reversionary rights even on the proceeds.

Under the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950, an evacuee is a person who, on account of setting up of the Dominions of India and Pakistan or due to civil disturbances or fear of such disturbances, has left India by March 1, 1947.

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