KARACHI: Some of the heirs of the late nawab of Junagadh have been waiting since 1986 for a court to adjudicate in their petition challenging how a commissioner of Karachi divided up their property in 1963.
On Wednesday, a division bench of the Sindh High Court comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Nisar Muhammad Shaikh adjourned the petition till April 3 as one of the lawyers for the petitioners was absent.
Junagadh state acceded to Pakistan on Sept 15, 1947. His Highness Mahabat Khanji, the ruler of Junagadh, died on November 7, 1959, leaving behind a widow and 17 direct descendants. His eldest son, Nawab Dilawar Khanji, was officially recognised as his successor and after him, his son, Jahangir, became the next nawab. He is the subject of this petition.
Several of the descendents had taken the late nawab, Dilawar Khanji, to court over the division of property. The petition was filed by Lady Saeeda Sultana’s children, Princess Sultan Bakht, Sahebzada Ghulam Moinuddin Khan, Princess Taj Bakht, Noor Bakht, Zohra Bakht and seven others.
The heirs question a decision made by GA Madani, who was the commissioner of Karachi in May 1963. While deciding the devolution and distribution of Junagadh state property, the commissioner split it into two and ordered for all the property of the late nawab to be vested in Nawab Dilawar Khanji while the other heirs were given some paltry sums in cash.
The heirs have questioned the decision on the ground that they were given no reason for the division of property nor were their claims recognised, which they maintained goes contrary to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act of 1963.
The heirs have repeatedly brought the matter up before successive governments but in vain after which, in 1983, on the advice of the Secretary of States to take up the matter with Sindh government, they filed the petition which has been awaiting a decision since then.
According to the list of the estate and property, assets left by the late nawab of Junagadh include securities worth Rs12.9 million with the government of India, Rs3 million with the government of Pakistan, Rs37,634 with the State Bank of Pakistan, Junagadh House in Karachi worth one million rupees (in 1958), a garden in Malir over 16 acres, 30 ghuntas, Roop Mahal in Hirabad, Hyderabad, worth Rs336,000 in 1959, agricultural land and a garden in Tando Ali Hyder and Tando Mohammad Khan about 500 acres, diamond-studded jewelry and shares in the then Sui Gas Transmission Company.
The Sindh home secretary and secretary of the ministry of states and frontier region are named in the petition.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.