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Thread: Info panel in Jinnah battle

  1. #9

    Re: Info panel in Jinnah battle

    Centre submits Sorabjee’s papers
    as reported by Anshika Misra October 22, 2008, DNA India

    Nusli Wadia sought lawyer’s opinion on Jinnah House via RTI

    In 2002, senior lawyer Soli Sorabjee, then attorney general of India, had told the Central government that Jinnah House, the Malabar Hill bungalow built by Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was declared an evacuee property on “an erroneous factual and legal basis”.

    After examining the contentious issue of the ownership of Jinnah House, Sorabjee had also opined that Jinnah’s daughter, Dina Wadia, who has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court staking claim on Jinnah House, was Jinnah’s sole legal heir and therefore entitled to the bungalow.

    Sorabjee’s six-year-old opinion, a document that the Centre had been all along unwilling to make public, was filed before the HC on Tuesday by the Centre along with a fresh affidavit. Dina’s son, industrialist Nusli Wadia, had sought Sorabjee’s opinion under the Right to Information Act. The Centre had initially refused to part with the document. However, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had directed the Centre to provide the information to Nusli Wadia.

    In the affidavit filed on Tuesday, the Centre said that the opinion given by Sorabjee was being provided to Wadia as per the directions of the CIC. The opinion is likely to buttress Dina Wadia’s case in the HC. Wadia, 89, who resides in New York, moved HC in July 2007 labeling the government’s move to take over Jinnah House in 1949 by declaring it to be an ‘evacuee property’ to be illegal. She alleged that the government’s decision was based on a wrong premise that Jinnah had willed the property to his sister Fatima, who was declared an evacuee when she left for Pakistan in 1947. Wadia contended that Jinnah’s will was never probated and thus has no legal standing in India.

    Thus, being Jinnah’s only child and sole legal heir, she is entitled to the bungalow.
    Sorabjee had opined that Dina Wadia’s claim to Jinnah House as the sole legal heir to Jinnah cannot be disputed and suggested that she be granted a long-term lease of the bungalow.

    Several competing claims have been made for Jinnah House based on sentiments attached to Jinnah’s legacy like that of the Pakistan government, which wanted to occupy the bungalow for their consulate. After Dina Wadia’s petition, Jinnah’s grand-nephew Mohamed Rajabally Ebrahim,72, has also filed a writ petition in the HC stating he is entitled to 1/6th share in the property and that the government has “no right to squat” over Jinnah House after the repeal of the Displaced Persons (DP) Act, in 2005. The matter will now be heard in November.

    DNA - Mumbai - Centre submits Sorabjee’s papers - Daily News & Analysis

  2. #10

    ‘Classified’ NDA papers on Jinnah House off limits to Dina Wadia: CIC

    ‘Classified’ NDA papers on Jinnah House off limits to Dina Wadia: CIC
    as reported by Tannu Sharma, Oct 31, 2008

    New Delhi, October 30 : The Central Information Commission has ordered that certain documents and internal correspondence pertaining to the NDA government's decision to hand over Jinnah House to Dina Wadia will not be disclosed to her. Wadia, an octogenarian, is the sole legal heir of Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

    Acceding to the view of the three-member committee set up by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to look into the issue, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, said, "It is within the exclusive domain of the ministry to decide and determine as to whether such disclosure is likely to have any impact on India's relations with a foreign State or not."

    The CIC panel issued a directive barring her from accessing some documents and internal communications of the then foreign ministry, which under former foreign minister Jaswant Singh, had taken a decision to hand over Jinnah House in Mumbai to the family, preferably on a long lease. According to the MEA committee, the disclosure of certain "classified" information to Wadia would seriously impact India's relations with Pakistan.

    As for Jaswant Singh's willingness to disclose the note himself on the request of Nusli Wadia, Dina's son, the CIC observed, "This willingness is in his individual capacity and not on behalf of the ministry." It disregarded Singh's readiness to disclose the information, saying it could not take into account the personal decisions of any individual.

    With this decision of the CIC, the battle for the mansion is likely to become tougher for Wadia who is also fighting a case in the Bombay High Court seeking rights of the property worth Rs 300 crore. She is being opposed by the current Congress-led Government, which has asserted that it has been the rightful custodian of the property ever since Jinnah left for Pakistan at the time of Independence.

    Earlier this month, however, Wadia was allowed access to the official correspondence of Soli Sorabjee -- the then attorney general (AG) -- dated May 21 and October 10, 2002. Contrary to the MEA's view regarding the AG's opinions, the CIC noted that the correspondence actually "depicts a legal analysis of the law of inheritance applicable in case of Khoja Shias."

    At the time, the CIC had disagreed with the MEA committee and held that it had not been explicitly stated that the disclosure of Sorabjee's opinion would have some impact on Indian's relations with a foreign country. The CIC panel had opined...

    ‘Classified’ NDA papers on Jinnah House off limits to Dina Wadia: CIC

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