The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Union government to file its reply to an application filed by Wadia Group chairman, Nusli Wadia, seeking to be substituted as petitioner in a suit filed by his late mother Dina Wadia claiming ownership of ‘Jinnah House’. The bungalow on Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, built by Mohammed Ali Jinnah and close to the official residence of the Maharashtra chief minister, has been at the centre of a prolonged battle between Jinnah’s daughter Dina and the Indian government. Dina Wadia died in November last year in New York at the age of 98.
On Friday, when the petition came up for hearing before a division bench of Justice S M Kemkar an Justice d M S Karnik, the bench was informed by Dina Wadia’s lawyer that her son Nusli Wadia had filed an application, seeking an amendment to the petition to be substituted as the petitioner as he was her sole legal heir. Union government counsel Advait Sethna said while it was only a formal amendment, he would still have to seek instructions from the concerned department. The bench, while adjourning the petition for a period of three weeks, directed the government to file its reply.
Jinnah’s only child Dina Wadia had moved court, claiming the property by virtue of being his only legal heir. Wadia is claiming ownership of the property contending there is no valid will to justify the Centre’s notification declaring the heritage property as evacuee property under the Bombay Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act,1949. The Union government had then opposed the petition, stating that the Jinnah House belonged to the government and that only Jinnah’s sister Fatima or her legal heir can claim right over the property.