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A battle royale for Jinnah House

The sprawling Jinnah House, located at the posh Malabar Hill area of Mumbai, is witnessing a fierce legal battle for possession of the priced property. After a brief lull, the prolonged legal battle between the 90-year old Dina Wadia, daughter of Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and the Indian Government for the possession of the priced property will start once again in the Bombay high court next week.jinnah house mumbai TowZS 16298

Wadia, mother of textile tycoon in India Nusli Wadia, is fighting the second round of her battle to get back her father’s bungalow, where she had spent her childhood. Earlier, she had filed a writ petition in the 1990s, but withdrew it later with the liberty to file a suit. Wadia, a resident of UK, knocked on the doors of the high court after she received certain information through RTI.
Relying on an opinion given by then attorney-general Soli Sorabjee, the Vajpayee-led government at the Centre in the late ‘90s had agreed that Dina Wadia was the sole legal heir of Jinnah. Then Wadia filed a fresh writ petition in the high court in July 2007.

Since then, Wadia’s legal team, which includes senior counsel Fali Nariman, has argued that her father left no will. Nariman has argued that the Union government wrongly declared the heritage property as evacuee property under the Evacuee Properties Act, 1949.

Her legal team argued that Jinnah died in September 1948, before the Evacuee Properties Act was enacted in India. So his property was never an evacuee property and also that Jinnah was a Khoja Muslim, a sect which follows Hindu personal law, not Muslim. As per Muslim personal law, the property of someone who dies intestate goes to his or her siblings.

A division bench of justices DK Deshmukh and RP Sondurbaldota has posted the case for hearing on August 9. It will be interesting to watch the legal royale afresh.

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