Pakistan to pay India costs in Hyderabad Nizam case
In a consequential hearing on Thursday, the high court of England and Wales ordered Pakistan to pay India and the two princes party to the long-drawn dispute 65% of their legal costs.
In October, the court had ruled in favour of India and the two descendants of the late 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, who sent £1million to a London bank in 1948, now estimated to value at least £35 million.
The court ordered that Prince Muffakham Jah be paid £1,835,445.83, the government of India £2,802,192.22 and Mukarram Jah, the VIIIth Nizam £795,064.63 (65% on account of their costs).
Paul Hewitt, representing the VIII Nizam, said: “Today’s hearing brings this litigation, which started in 2013 but where the underlying dispute dates back to in 1948, to an end at long last.”
“We are pleased that Pakistan has decided not to contest Mr Justice Smith’s judgment. Our client His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam will now have access to the funds which his grandfather, HEH the VII Nizam, intended him to have.”
The historic case has gone through several twists and turns with India and the descendants — Mukarram Jah and Muffakham Jah — on one side and Pakistan on the other.
Pakistan had claimed that the money on the ground was a payment for supplying arms to the Hyderabad state during India’s annexation in 1948.
The 7th Nizam had transferred the £1 million to the then Pakistan ambassador in London, Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, for safe-keeping, who agreed “to keep the amount mentioned by you in my name in trust”. The amount, accruing interest over the decades, lies in the National Westminster Bank in London.
The 166-page judgment by Justice Marcus Smith set out the history of the dispute, from India’s ‘Operation Polo’ to annexation of Hyderabad, and later developments that include the Nizam in 1965 ‘assigning’ the President of India the claim to the money in London.
The judge had rejected Pakistan’s claims of illegality on India’s part. Pakistan had alleged that India’s annexation of Hyderabad was unlawful and that it followed that India and the princes should be barred from any claim to the fund.
India argued that the question of whether India’s annexation of Hyderabad was lawful was irrelevant to the question of ownership of the fund. The judge concluded that India’s submission was well-founded, and that even if there were illegality of the nature alleged by Pakistan (the judge has not made any findings on that issue), any such illegality would in any case be irrelevant to the claim.