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Indian Case Summary

Ahmadunnisa Begum vs Union Of India on 29 January, 1968 – Case Summary

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In the case of Ahmadunnisa Begum vs Union Of India on 29 January, 1968, the Andhra High Court was called upon to adjudicate a dispute involving the succession of the private properties of the late General His Exalted Highness Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan, the erstwhile Ruler of the Hyderabad State (hereinafter referred to as “the late Nizam). The petitioner, Ahmadunnisa Begum, the daughter of the late Nizam, challenged the certificate issued by the Government of India on 27th February 1967 under Art. 366 (22) of the Constitution of India to the 2nd respondent, His Exalted Highness Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan Bhadur (hereinafter referred to as “the Nizam), the grandson of the late Nizam.

Facts of the Case

The late Nizam had entered into an agreement with the Government of India on the 25th January 1950, determining and guaranteeing the amount of the privy purse and the personal rights, privileges and dignities, including the dynastic succession. The late Nizam was in possession of several immovable and extensive moveable properties, cash, government securities, gold and silver bullion, ornaments and utensils, jewellery, antiques and pieces of art and loans and debentures etc. The petitioner claimed that as per the Hanafi school of Muslim law, the late Nizam’s properties should be divided among his heirs, which included two widows, two sons and the petitioner.

Issues Raised

The petitioner challenged the certificate issued by the Government of India, asserting that it was issued without the authority of law, was arbitrary, discriminatory and violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner under Article 14, 19 (1) (f) and 31 (1) of the Constitution. The petitioner further stated that the Government of India was not competent in law to issue the impugned certificate, interfering with, or depriving the petitioner and the other heirs of, their rights to succeed to the late Nizam under the personal law applicable to them.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the main controversy in the writ petition could be formulated under the following main heads: Whether the parties under Art. IV intended to and the covenant in fact did, provide for succession to the private property of the Ruler; Has the Government of India executive power to issue the impugned certificate, declaring the Nizam, the 2nd respondent, as the successor to the private property of the late Nizam, and whether this Court cannot call in question such a certificate having regard to the provisions of Art. 363; Does the custom of the family of the late Nizam, even assuming that it is established, apply in governing the succession to his private properties.

The court also examined the historical background of the agreements entered into between the late Nizam and the Government of India on the 25th of January, 1950. The court noted that the agreement was entered into between the late Nizam and the Government of India as independent sovereigns in lieu of their having surrendered the territories over which they ruled, providing for certain matters like privy purses, determination of what constituted his private property and which is the property belonging to the State, and the guarantee of their personal rights, privileges and dignities and succession to the gaddi.

The court’s judgment on the issues raised and the final decision is not included in the extracted content.