A long complex case spread across time and place has finally reached a verdict in London yesterday. A verdict most welcome. Justice Marcus Smith, judge in a high court in United Kingdom, opined that Pakistan has no claim over the £1 million wired to a bank in London in September, 1948, which has now grown to a sizeable £35 million (over `305 crores), famously known as the Hyderabad fund.
The money belongs to India, and the descendents of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Nizam VII, His Excellency, Mir Osman Ali Khan, and not to Pakistan, to whose high commission in London, the-then finance minister of the Nizam wired the fund. For India, it is a moral victory too, because as a crow flies back in time to the tumultuous period of Partition and the consolidation of the Indian nation under Sardar Vallabhai Patel, some sore critics make unfounded allegations that Hyderabad’s accession into India after a police action lacked firm legality. The wise judgment of Justice Smith ensures another tiny endorsement of India’s ethical, moral and legal correctness in its post-Partition consolidation of a modern nation, not that it was needed.
Another feather in the cap for Harish Salve, the rockstar legal luminary, who has now smacked Pakistan twice in a row in an international court, the previous one over the Kulbhushan Jadav row in the International Court of Justice in Hague. Pakistan will be very wary giving him an opportunity for a hat-trick.
The big question now should be about the monies. Do the funds belong equally between the government of India and the heirs of the Nizam, or only private individuals, nearly a score and a quarter, who are the descendents of the former ruler of Hyderabad? Should individuals be allowed to inherit a piece of history, which should belong to all people of Hyderabad, and of India? The jury is still out.