This Article is From Mar 30, 2010

Jinnah's will: A roadblock for daughter's legal fight?

Mumbai: Trouble for Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah's daughter Dina Wadia, who is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over claim to a posh property, is far from over as a Central government office has found a copy of Jinnah's will bequeathing the property to his sister.

The Will mentions that the leader bequeathed the property to his sister Fatima Jinnah. This development may form a roadblock to Dina Wadia's claim to the Jinnah House, a colonial bungalow on Mount Pleasant Road at upmarket Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, official sources said.

"The will dated May 30, 1939 and a copy of legal certification from the Bombay High Court was found in the records of the custodian of enemy property for India," Dinesh Singh, in-charge of the custodian office in Mumbai told PTI.

The High Court in 1962 had legally certified the will as genuine and executed in Fatima's favour. "We have sent the copy to the Ministry of External Affairs for their perusal," Singh said.

Dina (90), a British national and mother of industrialist Nusli Wadia had approached the High Court in August 2007 claiming rights to the bungalow on the ground that her father had not left any will. According to Dina, her father was a Khoja Muslim and this sect followed the Hindu Law and not the Shariat Law.

Hence,the Hindu Succession law that leaves the property to his daughter would be applicable and not the Islamic law where the deceased's siblings also have a right over the property. If the Will and legal certification is accepted by the High Court, official sources say it might weaken the claim of Dina over the bungalow. Dina's lawyer Advait Sethna said it would not affect their case. He however, refused to comment further, stating the matter is subjudice.

According to the Centre, after the enactment of the Bombay Evacuee Act in 1949 the Government had declared Jinnah House as an evacuee property and the  government was its owner. The Centre in its affidavit filed before the High Court had said it had decided to convert the house into a South Asia Centre for Arts and Culture.