The Supreme Court on Wednesday ended a 30-year fight for the inheritance of Maharaja Brar of Faridkot in favour of his two daughters. The court declared the Maharawal Khewaji Trust taking care of the properties as “null and void”.
With slight tweaks, a bench of Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dula upheld the Punjab and Haryana order granting the majority share to Amrit Kaur and Deepinder Kaur. Amrit Kaur had challenged the Maharaja’s will in 1992.
The bench had reserved its order on July 28. The erstwhile royal family has movable and immovable assets in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and Chandigarh. They include Rajmahal in Faridkot spread over 14 acres and a 150-bed charitable hospital that has come up on a portion of the palace ground.
The other properties include Faridkot’s Qila Mubarak spread over 10 acres and New Delhi’s Faridkot House located on prime land on Copernicus Marg. The Centre has leased out the property on a monthly rent of Rs 17.50 lakh. It was valued at Rs 1,200 crore nine years ago.
In June 2020, Maharawal Khewaji Trust moved the apex court against the high court order, declaring the erstwhile Maharaja’s June 1, 1982 will as forged. The Supreme Court ordered status quo and allowed the trust to continue as a caretaker.
The high court had upheld a Chandigarh district court’s order awarding a majority share in the Rs 20,000-crore property to Amrit and Deepender Kaur. The court said the descendants of Manjit Inder Singh, the Maharaja’s brother, would get their mother Mohinder Kaur’s share.
In 2013, the Chandigarh district court had granted inheritance to Brar sisters, declaring the will as “forged, fictitious, fabricated and shrouded with suspicious circumstance” and held the trustees conspiring to create this will to over the properties.
Brar, who was crowned as Faridkot’s ruler aged three in1918, was married to Narinder Kaur and the couple had three daughters, Amrit Kaur, Deepinder Kaur, and Maheepinder Kaur, and a son, Tikka Harmohinder Singh, who died in a road accidentin 1981. Brar later slipped into depression. The will was executed months later, asking the trust to take care of his properties. Brar’s wife and mother were alive then but were kept in the dark. Maheepinder Kaur died in Shimla in 2001 under mysterious circumstances.
The will, which came to light after Brar’s death in 1989, said Amrit Kaur had married against his wishes and was hence disinherited. Amrit Kaur filed a civil suitinthe district court of Chandigarh challenging the will in 1992, saying her father could nothave legally bequeathed his properties to the trust because they were ancestral and governed by the law related to the Hindu jointfamily. She also questioned its authenticity.