A London court has ruled that £35m which is held in a UK bank account must be sent to the descendants of an Indian royal. The dispute began in 1948 when the last king of Hyderabad deposited £1m into the UK account which was held by the then Pakistan high commissioner. With interest, the sum has increased to £35m.
The judge ruled there was no evidence to back Pakistan’s claims towards the money.
The origins of the dispute date back to the 1947 partitioning of British India.
Hyderabad was annexed by India in 1948 in a military operation-the cash transfer had been made shortly before that.
The Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, has not come to a decision yet on whether his state should be in India or Pakistan.
His descendants have allegedly asked for the money to be returned weeks after the annexation took place, however, Pakistan refused to give it back.
The court case was fought by his family, together with the Indian state. The National Westminster Bank refused to release the funds to either party until the case was resolved in court.
Pakistan argued that they had been given the money in order to procure arms however the court determined that it had the right to rule in the case, given that the was deposited in a British bank account.
“The court today made it clear that it did not think the money was handed to Pakistan outright. There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan only held the money as a trustee and it actually belonged to the Nizam,” Paul Hewitt, the lawyer for one of the grandsons, told the BBC’s Gaggan Sabherwal.”
Mr Hewitt stated that the case, which had begun when his client was a child, was finally being resolved when he was in his 80s.
“We welcome the judgment of Justice Marcus Smith,” Najaf Ali Khan, one of the Nizam’s grandsons, told BBC Telugu.”
“The High Court has rightly rejected Pakistan’s claim. The family has long awaited this judgement.”
India’s foreign ministry welcomed the verdict in a press statement.
Pakistan could seek to appeal; however, the money will be given to the Nizam’s grandsons and the state of India.