The Madhya Pradesh High Court here has stayed an order declaring the property of the Nawab of Bhopal, inherited by Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his family members, as “enemy” property by central department.
The order was issued two months ago by the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, Mumbai (CEPI), which had decreed that the estate in question be confiscated.
Justice Vandana Kasrekar yesterday also served notices to CEPI, the central and Madhya Pradesh governments during the preliminary hearing on a petition moved by Saif challenging the order. The notices are returnable in four weeks.
Saif Ali Khan, son of late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, a former cricketer, and yesteryear actress Sharmila Tagore, approached the HC after CEPI passed an order on February 25 declaring the property of erstwhile Bhopal state inherited by the actor and his family members as “enemy” property.
Prior to it, the 44-year-old filmstar was served a notice on December 19, 2014 under Section 11 of the Enemy of Property Act 1968, promulgated after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
The Act relates to properties left behind by those who migrated to Pakistan at the time of Independence and after. Labelling these as “enemy” properties, the Act allowed the government control over them through CEPI.
CEPI declared the property of late nawab of Bhopal, Hamidulla Khan (ancestor of Saif) as enemy property after finding that his elder daughter Abida Sultan left India in 1950 and migrated to Pakistan, when Hamidulla was alive.
After Hamidulla’s death, his second daughter Mehr Taj Sajida Sultan Begum was declared the successor of nawab of Bhopal property as per provisions of Succession of Throne Act of Bhopal, 1947, Saif’s counsel Rajesh Pancholi told the HC.
Sajida Sultan was the grandmother of Saif, he said.
Pancholi told the court that Abida Sultan went to Pakistan on her own and no property of Nawab of Bhopal was devolved upon her.