Punjab: Supreme court decides royal battle for Faridkot estate, orders in daughters’ favour | Chandigarh News –

By- AmitAnand Choudhary
NEW DELHI/BATHINDA: Bringing to an end the 30-year long legal battle among family members of erstwhile Faridkot Maharaja Harinder Singh Brar over who should inherit properties worth around Rs 20,000 crore, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Punjab and Haryana high court’s order that ruled in favour of his daughters Amrit Kaur and Deepinder Kaur and declared that the trust, which was managing the affairs of the estate, was created on the basis of a forged will. It dismissed three special leave petitions, directing Mahrawal Khewaji Trust to keep running the charitable hospital till September 30 until the appointment of a receiver and maintain the property till the decree was executed.
A bench of Chief Justice U U Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said that all three courts below including Punjab and Haryana high court extensively examined the evidence and they all were unanimous in their findings and said there was no reason to upset the concurrent view taken by the courts.
The bone of contention was the third will which was alleged of being executed by Harinder Singh in 1982 as per which the entire property would be inherited by a Trust known as “Maharwal Khewaji Trust“. He was survived by three daughters namely Amrit Kaur, Deepinder Kaur and Mahipinder Kaur. He died in 1989 and family members came to know about his alleged third will which superseded earlier wills.
After his death, the board of trustees took over the possession, control and management of the entire estate of Raja Harinder Singh Brar with the assent of the Executors. The properties located in various revenue estates were mutated in the name of the Trust and the urban properties were also transferred in the name of the Trust.
The eldest daughter Amrit Kaur, who was not made part of the Trust, filed a suit for declaration that she is owner of 1/3rd share of the property and also challenged the veracity of her father’s third will. The second suit was filed by the younger brother of Harinder Singh seeking inheritance of the entire estate on the basis of the Rule of Primogeniture.
Youngest daughter of Raja Mahipinder Kaur expired in 2001 when the matter was still pending before the trial court. She was unmarried and died without leaving any heir or successor apart from her two sisters who were already before the court.
The daughter had claimed that Raja had no right to alienate the properties which are joint Hindu family/ancestral/coparcenary properties of late Raja except for the maintenance of corpus of joint Hindu family. She submitted that the Raja, being a Hindu, was governed by the Hindu Succession Act and they are entitled to inherit the property in equal shares according to the Act,.
After examining all the documents and evidence, the lower court as well as the HC came to the conclusion that the third will was not valid as it was forged.
“Thus in view of aforesaid, the alleged Will dated 01.06.1982 executed by Raja Harinder Singh is found to be forged, fabricated and shrouded with suspicious circumstances and Maharwal Khewaji Trust constituted thereunder is not a legally constituted Trust,” the HC had said in its verdict.
Agreeing with the HC, the apex court upheld the findings and brought to an end the three decade old royal dispute. The court also rejected the plea of erstwhile Maharaja’s younger brother that he was entitled to inherit the estate under Rule of Primogeniture as per which the properties left behind by the Ruler must come in the hands of the male successor
“In view of the specific finding rendered by the courts below, including the High Court, in our view, no case was made out for the applicability of Rule of Primogeniture and succession based on said Rule,” the bench said As the Trust was managing the affairs of the estate during the pendency of the case, the court said “The Trust shall be entitled to run the Charitable Hospital only upto 30.09.2022, whereafter all the aspects of management, finance and other control including the need for appointment of a Receiver shall be subject to such orders as may be passed by the court executing the decree in the instant matters.”