Mumbai, Dec 20 (IANS) Over 70 years after it was abandoned by the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah, his iconic bungalow at Malabar Hill will be taken over by the Ministry of External Affairs and refurbished on the lines of New Delhi’s Hyderabad House, official sources said on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has cleared the process to transfer the Jinnah House from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), said Bharatiya Janata Party legislator M.P. Lodha, in whose Assembly constituency the property falls.
“The MEA has been instructed by the PMO to renovate and refurbish it and develop it on the lines of the Hyderabad House in Delhi,” Lodha said, quoting a December 5 letter received from Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
However, ICCR officials here remained tight-lipped on the development or a possible time-frame by which the Jinnah House would be handed over to the MEA.
The famed and regal house, with a white and green facade, large balconies and rooms, was created by renowned British architect Claude Batley, was built in 1936-38 at a princely sum of nearly Rs 200,000 on a prime green corner of Malabar Hill.
The ground-plus-one storey structure became the dream house for its owner, Barrister Jinnah, then a lawyer at the Bombay Presidency High Court, and is spread across over 2.5 acres besides a built up area of the majestic mansion spread of 1,694 sq metres.
Historically, it was the venue where Jinnah first discussed the issue of partition of undivided India in 1944 with Mahatma Gandhi, and later in 1946 with Congress stalwart Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Top leaders of the Independence movement including Gandhi, Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and many others were regular visitors to the mansion in which crucial issues pertaining to India’s freedom struggle and its future were discussed.
Though Jinnah moved to Pakistan after partition, he wanted his property to be hired on a monthly rent of Rs 3,000 to a European family or a refined Indian prince.
He made his desire known to the then Bombay Province Governor Sri Prakasa, who was deputed by Nehru to ascertain what was Jinnah’s desire with his home post partition.
However, after Independence on August 15, 1947, and following Jinnah’s death in 1948, it was declared ‘evacuee property’ like thousands of others.
Later, in 1955, it was leased out to the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai till 1982.
After that it has remained vacant with controversies surrounding it. The erstwhile Janata Party government proposed to hand it over to the Pakistan Consulate. But the idea was shelved following protests.
Since 1982, it was under the care of the Central Public Works Department and in 1997 it was transferred to ICCR. After the Enemy Property Bill 2016, it belongs to the Indian government.
In March 2017, a leading builder called for its demolition saying it symbolized the place where the “conspiracy to create Pakistan was hatched”.
In 2007, Jinnah’s daughter, Dina Wadia, approached the Bombay High Court staking claim to the property as the sole heir.
After her demise in November 2017, her son and Bombay Dyeing Chairman Nusli N. Wadia is pursuing the case.