Re: The High Commissioner for Pakistan in the United Kingdom v Prince Mukarram Jah, His Exalted Highness the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad and others – Claim No. HC-2013-000211
This is a unique matter pertaining to historical funds of an erstwhile king from pre – independent India left behind in a bank account in the United Kingdom. The funds belonged to His Exalted Highness the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad (the “Nizam”), who was also known as the richest person in the world during his reign in the State of Hyderabad.
In August 1947 both the countries of India and Pakistan had gained independence from the British Rule. However, there were several other princely states situated across India. In the scheme of partition these princely states were given a choice to either join India or Pakistan or remain independent. The state of Hyderabad was one such sovereign princely state under the rule of the Nizam VII in 1947.
The then Nizam declared his intention to remain independent of India and Pakistan, rather than becoming a part of either. However, the Nizam wanted to maintain cordial terms with both India and Pakistan. During this time negotiations and diplomatic talks were going on between the Governments of India, Pakistan, Hyderabad, and the United Kingdom, pertaining to the future of the State of Hyderabad.
The Government of India felt that the Nizam would be having close ties with Pakistan which was unacceptable to India as Hyderabad was a large landmass situated almost in the centre of India. Amidst the initial unstable and uncertain relation between India, Pakistan and other princely states, the Government of India in 1948 launched “Operation Polo” through which the Indian Army captured the State of Hyderabad which later led to the accession of Hyderabad as a State in the Union of India.
The Nizam during his period of rule had several properties and monies in various countries in the world including London. In 1948 an agent of the Nizam transferred large sums of money from the bank account of the Government of Hyderabad to an account in the name of Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola (“Rahimtoola”) at National Westminster Bank.
Rahimtoola was at the time of the transfer the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom.
In 1954 the Nizam commenced proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice under Claim 1954 H No 2387 against Rahimtoola and other Defendants to claim the monies lying in the account of Rahinmtoola. However, the claim was stayed by the House of the Lord’s as the Government of Pakistan had claimed sovereign immunity from the Jurisdiction of United Kingdom. Thereafter several negotiations and talks have taken place between the stake holders of the funds, but, a conclusion on the rightful claimant of the funds was never reached. The monies continued to remain in the National Westminster Bank account and in 2019 the monies were estimated to be about £35 million.
Finally, in 2013 the Government of Pakistan filed a claim in a High Court in the United Kingdom to claim the monies of the Nizam lying in the UK. The said claim was contested by the Government of India and two grandsons (Prince Mukkaram Jah and Prince Muffakham Jah) of the Nizam. The litigation went on for 6 years and by Judgement 2 October 2019 the Honourable Mr Justice Marcus Smith dismissed the claim of Pakistan, and the funds were shared between the Government of India, Prince Mukkaram Jah and Prince Muffakham Jah (the “princes”) and the English Estate of the Nizam on the basis of a confidential settlement agreement which was allowed by Mr Justice Roth.
Our client is the great grandson of the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad (the “Nizam”) through the family line of the 2nd son of the Nizam namely Prince Moazzam Jah.
On or about October 2019 our client came to know about the fate of the matter and further came to know that the funds have been shared pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement in exclusion of himself, his mother and uncle.
Subsequently our client instructed us to seek documents from the Administrator of the English Estate of the Nizam. Though we received responses to our letters, but the confidential settlement agreement remained privileged and out of access of our client. Thereafter our client filed application notice seeking documents from the Court records. Our client wanted to examine the confidential settlement agreement and other relevant documents to understand as to why the Administrator had decided to compromise the Estate and not pursue an independent claim to the funds.
During the pendency of this application, the Administrator had filed a separate application seeking directions from Court pertaining to the management of the English Estate of the Nizam. From that application our client came to know that the balance funds in the Estate was only about £400,000.00.
Our client does not have any information about the fate of the rest of the monies as the same has been disbursed in terms of the confidential settlement agreement. From the application filed by the Administrator it was also evident that a separate proceedings had been filed before Mr Justice Roth and in that proceedings the Honourable Court had approved the confidential settlement agreement and all documents pertaining to the reasons for compromising the English Estate of the Nizam was part of the records of the proceedings before Mr Justice Roth.
Under these circumstances our client withdrew his application that he had filed at court. Keeping the application notice same pending would have been futile and unfruitful as our client had filed the application in the proceedings before Mr Justice Marcus Smith.
Our client believes that he is the 36% shareholder in the Estate of the Nizam along with this mother and uncle. Our client believes that being a part of the main blood line of the Nizam, his mother should have been given an opportunity to represent herself before the English Courts during the pendency of the proceedings.
Our client is surprised to learn that the Estate has been compromised to such an extent where the Estate has been allotted only about 1% of the monies of the Nizam. Though there may be legal reasons for compromising the Estate unknown to our client and he has informed us that he is curious and determined to know the reason for such compromise of the English Estate.
Our client is in the process of taking appropriate legal advice in India as well as in the United Kingdom to ascertain and understand the fate of the funds and will look at possible legal means to claim his share from the monies left behind by the Nizam in the United Kingdom.
If you have any queries or need assistance in relation to any of the above requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We can be reached either by telephone on 020 7499 0620 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.