The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea in which a woman claiming to be the widow of the great-grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar II from the Mughal dynasty sought possession of the Red Fort in the national capital.
According to the petition, their family property was taken away by the British East India Company following the first War of Independence in 1857, after which the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled from the country and possession of the Red Fort was taken away from the Mughals.
The petitioner sought possession of the Red Fort or adequate compensation from 1857 till date for ‘illegal possession’ by the government or any other relief deemed fit.
A bench of Justice Rekha Palli while hearing the matter said, “My history is very weak, but you claim injustice was done to you by the British East India Company in 1857. Why is there a delay of over 150 years? What were you doing for all these years?”
It was also noted by the court that there was no document to support the claim that the petitioner was related to the last Mughal emperor.”You have not filed any inheritance chart. Everyone knows Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled by the British, but if his heirs did not file any plea can she do it,” Justice Palli asked.
Advocate Vivek More, who appeared for the petitioner, argued that Begum was an illiterate woman. However, the court rejected the petition saying merely because the petitioner is an illiterate woman there is no reason why, if the petitioner’s predecessors were aggrieved by any action of the East India Company, no steps were taken in this regard at the relevant time or soon thereafter.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appeared on behalf of the government.