Maintain Pakistani-turned US citizen’s property: HC

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Custodian of Enemy Property and the Central government to maintain flats of Pakistani turned US citizen Thrity Master and not to make money out of it.

Written by Mohan Kumar | Mumbai | Published: February 11, 2009 12:48:40 am

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Custodian of Enemy Property and the Central government to maintain flats of Pakistani turned US citizen Thrity Master and not to make money out of it.

The court is hearing a petition filed by Master,a California resident,who is entangled in a legal battle with the Custodian of Enemy Property and the Central government. Master had urged the court to transfer her property,Sohrab House in Colaba,back to her as she ceased to be a Pakistani citizen in 2000.

Master had contended that although the property was vested with the custodian and regularised,no further transfers of the property should be allowed.

“Maintain it. Don’t make money out of it,” division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice V K Tahilramani observed on Tuesday.

Master’s lawyer Cherag Balsara on Tuesday pointed out that the custodian transfers the property and make money out of it. He further argued that the provision of divesting property becomes invalid once the owner seizes to be citizen of the country concerned.

However,the custodian was of the view that once the property is vested it cannot be divested. “We have not started any war. Then only we will have enemy,” Justice Patel said.

Counsel for the Custodian Rithuja Ambekar submitted that the petitioner is under the impression that we are creating third party interests.

The court has now kept the case for hearing on March 30.

In 2007 the court had refused to order a status quo sought by the petitioner. Balsara had earlier pointed out that the flats in the building were being leased out by the custodian at measly amounts.

The custodian and the Central government had earlier told the court that under the Enemy Property Act,1968 the custodian had the power to sublet and lease the property to cover repair and water charges of the property.

In 1938,a trust agreement was made between Sorabji Dubash,who stayed with his family in Karachi post the India-Pakistan partition,and Bai Mithibai who owned the property. Following their demise the property was inherited by Master and two of her sisters. However,in 1957,the Centbank Financial and Custodial Services (CFCS) were appointed to as the sole trustee for the property and in September 1965,it was vested with the custody of Enemy Properties.

Under the Defence of India Rules,1962 and 1971,all properties belonging to or managed on behalf of Pakistani nationals during the crucial vesting period from 1965 to 1977 were handed over to the custodian of enemy properties and stayed in its custody as under the Enemy Property Act,1968.

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