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Succession to properties of erstwhile rulers of India shall be governed by personal law; not by rule of primogeniture; SC.

Supreme Court of India

CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta, & Justice Aniruddha Bose

The SC {Talat Fatima Hasan vs. Nawab Syed Murtaza Khan} was considering the interesting question of law i.e. the succession of the properties, which were declared as private properties, by an erstwhile ruler will be governed by rule of succession applicable to the "Gaddi" or by personal law applicable to the 'ruler'? 

Allowing the appeal, it was held that the ruler after merging of their States with the Indian Union, after executing the instrument of merger, they were ruler only in name, left only with the recognition of their original title, a privy purse and some privileges etc. as agreed in instrument of merger by the Indian Union. There is no paramountcy vested in the rulers anymore after merger, and they had no land other than the private properties, and there is no subjects any more.

It was further held that after merging of the States the erstwhile rulers were Maharajas or Rajas without a Praja: without any sovereignty; and without any territory. It was held by the SC that on the death of the ruler, the succession to his private properties was governed by personal laws. Therefore, the succession to the private properties of Nawab Raza Ali Khan will be governed by Muslim personal law, as applicable to him, and accordingly the Judgment of High Court was set aside which held that the properties of Nawab Raza Ali Khan would be governed by the rule of primogeniture (according to this rule - senior most male heir takes everything to the exclusion of all other heirs). It was held by the SC that rule of primogeniture is not applicable in present case.

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