PM intervenes, properties restored to Raja of Mahmoodabad

By Staff Writer,

Patna: Thanks to the intervention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Raja of Mahmoodabad will smile again. His properties spreading across Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal worth Rs 30,000 crore declared ‘enemy property’ by a central government ordinance last week will be restored to him as the government will not pursue the ordinance.

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At the persistence of Home Ministry President Pratibha Patil had issued Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance on August 2 nullifying the 2005 Supreme Court order that had restored the properties to Amir Mohammad Khan, erstwhile ruler of Mahmoodabad in Sitapur district of UP, after a long battle of 32 years that Khan had fought to claim the inheritance from his father who migrated to Pakistan and acquired its citizenship.

Palace of Raja Mehmoodabad [Photo by]

The ordinance was to be replaced by Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 scheduled to be tabled in the ongoing session of the Parliament. But now the government will allow the ordinance to be lapsed on August 28 as the Bill has now been struck off the list of parliamentary business.

The Ordinance was promulgated last week at the behest of the Union Home Ministry, which had reportedly argued that the Supreme Court ruling has opened a Pandora’s box as owners of similar ‘enemy properties’ across the country coming forward to seek their restoration. Khan’s properties originally belonged to his father who was a founding member of the Muslim League and migrated to Pakistan during Partition. His wife, Begum Kaneez Abdi, stayed back in India. The property was identified as evacuee property after Partition and thereafter declared ‘enemy property’ in the wake of the Indo-Pakistan war in 1965.

But Khan approached the court claiming ancestral rights over the properties. After a 32-year legal battle he won the case in 2005 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favour and asked the government to hand him all his properties back. The court observed that since Khan had chosen not to migrate with his father to Pakistan and has stayed on in India as an Indian citizen, he was entitled to reclaim his rights over the properties taken over by the custodian — an official appointed by the Centre. However, the order did not go well with the Central Government.

Amir Mohammad Khan [Photo by]

The Centre first promulgated an ordinance which even barred courts to restore enemy property to heirs and then the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill was drafted. However, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is said to have mobilised political opinion against the Ordinance and he led a team of MPs to PM urging him to withdraw the ordinance which will create chaos in UP.

Raja of Mahmoodabad has prime properties worth several thousand crores of rupees in Lucknow, Sitapur and Lakhimpur-Kheri districts in UP and Nainital in Uttaranchal. An Oxbridge alumnus, 63-year-old Khan has the Butler Palace in Lucknow and almost half of the Hazratganj Market in the city and the Metropole Heritage Hotel in Nainital.

Soon after the ordinance the Mayawati government of Uttar Pradesh had reportedly started implementing the ordinance by ordering the sealing of buildings and land. Since the bungalows of the district magistrate, superintendent of police and chief medical officer in Sitapur are also Raja’s properties, the official machinery reportedly had begun working overtime to get possession of these buildings.