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Udaipur Royals’ property dispute- Court decrees equal share to siblings

Udaipur : Awarding decree on a 37-year old dispute, technically a  partition suit for division of the large Mewar inheritance, between the Mewar Ex-Royals’, an additional district court here, acknowledged equal rights to all the three children of former Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar, the titular ruler of the Indian princely state of Udaipur (until the Indian govt abolished all royal titles in 1971). In the detailed 575 paged judgement, passed on Tuesday, the court declared all assets transferred to various trusts, as a part of the HUF property thereby granting equal rights to the successors by awarding 1/4th share to  each of  three children and one share to the deceased Maharana. 

The petition was put up in 1983 by Mahendra Singh, the eldest son of the Maharana against his father, mother Sushila Kumari,  grandmother Rajmata Virad Kunwar and younger brother Arvind Singh, when his father, had willed his entire property through a trust to the younger son. Arvind Singh was made the executor of the will while Mahendra Singh was left out on the ground that only the younger son was capable of looking after the legacy. Putting an end  to the inheritance dispute, Judge Mahendra Singh Dave, decreed four equal parts to the siblings and late Maharana, of the royal assets, even all that has been transferred to various companies,  

The Royals’ sister Yogeshwari, has been given equal rights over her father’s property. Awarding equal access to the movable and immovable properties including Shambu Niwas, BadiPal and Ghasghar that had not been transferred to any persons or trusts, the court held that the the petitioner Mahendra Singh, Yogeshwari and Arvind Singh could use the properties turn wise, for a tenure of 4 years each. The order also laid prohibition on any commercial activities on the above properties without seeking prior approval of the court. It may be mentioned that Shambhu Niwas is the official residence of the Royals presently under possession of Arvind Singh who resides there with his family.

Background of the family feud

When the late Maharana willed his property to Arvind Singh, the nobles protested and insisted that Bhagwat Singh had no right to do so and that Mahendra Singh was to be treated as head of the Hindu undivided family. On November 19, 1984, thousands of Rajputs gathered at the City Palace and declared Mahendra Singh as their maharana in a public coronation. Mahendra Singh could have stayed put in the palace but apprehending an ugly turn to the dispute which the government could exploit to disrepute the royalty, he preferred to fight it out legally and left the disputed property under his lock and government seal. But Arvind Singh, as executor of the will, gradually took possession of the properties.  

The royal inheritance 

 The assets today runs into many crore rupees. When the Instrument of Transfer to the Union of India was signed by Bhagwat Singh’s father, more than 20 palaces in the princely state of Mewar – Rajputana’s fifth largest in area, but most prestigious because of its history of repelling foreign invaders – were designated his private property and retained by the royal household. The sprawling estates that went with each palace were left to the family, shooting, grass and forest rights over thousands of sq miles state were granted to the line which had enjoyed them for 14 centuries and large hoards of jewellery and precious metals remained the private property of the Maharanas.  

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