The legal battle between Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s daughter Dina Wadia and the central government for possession of sprawling Jinnah House at the posh Malabar Hill area in Mumbai has taken another turn with the Bombay High Court allowing the government to carry out repairs at the Jinnah House and utilise the property as a cultural centre.
The court has also admitted a petition filed by the 90-year old Wadia, seeking ownership of the property. The petition filed by interveners Mohammed Rajabally Ebrahim and Shakir Mohammed Ebrahim seeking 1/6th undivided interest in the residual rights of the bungalow at Malabar Hill was also admitted. They sought rights on the ground that they are the descendents of Fatema Jinnah, to whom Jinnah House is bequeathed.
The court in 2008 had granted permission for the restoration work without disturbing the original structure. The government had informed the court that the property valued at Rs 300 crore is crumbling.
Jinnah House has witnessed a legal battle for the last two and a half years between Wadia and the government.
Wadia, mother of textile tycoon Nusli Wadia, is fighting the second round of her battle to get back her father’s bungalow, where she spent her childhood. Earlier, she had filed a writ petition in the 1990s, but withdrew it later with the liberty to file a suit. Dina, a resident of the UK, knocked on the doors of the HC after she received certain information through RTI.
As per the information, relying on an opinion given by then attorney-general Soli Sorabjee, the BJP government in the late ‘90s had agreed that Dina Wadia was the sole legal heir of Jinnah. Then Wadia filed a fresh writ petition in the HC in July 2007.
Since August 2007, Wadia’s legal team, which includes senior counsel Fali Nariman, has argued that her father left no will. Nariman has argued that the Union government wrongly declared the heritage property as evacuee property under the Evacuee Properties Act, 1949.