Mukarram Jah Bahadur @Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


A timeline

1967: ‘recognition’ as ‘ruler of Hyderabad State’

January 21, 2018: The Hindu

Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan, and wife Princess Esrah.
Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives
From: January 21, 2018: The Hindu

Information Commission pulls up Home Ministry over crucial file

Where are the 50-year-old records related to the government’s recognition of Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan as the ‘ruler of Hyderabad State’, the Central Information Commission has asked as it pulled up the Home Ministry, which said it was clueless about the crucial file.

Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad has also marked a copy of his order to the Union Home Secretary with the recommendation that a committee should be constituted to identify such files of historical importance and ensure that they were handed over to the National Archives.

“It would also be in order that the process of transfer of files to the Archives, which was initiated in 1981, is monitored in the correct fashion so that chronology is maintained in the transfer of files. This would be a real treasure house for the researchers and scholars as well as the public at large while browsing through the pages of history,” he noted in a recent order.

Fresh search ordered

He directed the Ministry to conduct a fresh search in the light of the document and if the file is traced, provide a copy of the certified information as sought by RTI applicant Sayed Khaliq.

The roots of the case go to the late Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last ruler of the princely state who had nominated his grandson Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan, also known as Mukarram Jah Bahadur, as his successor making him the titular Nizam.

He had sought recognition of the government of India for it. A ‘certificate of recognition’ was issued by the Union government with effect from February 24, 1967 — the date on which the Nizam died.

Nawab Khan came into possession of all the moveable and immovable properties of the Nizam making him one of the richest men in India.

A brief profile

Neelam Raaj & Syed Akbar, August 2, 2020: The Times of India

Nizam Osman Ali Khan featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1937. He was described as the richest man in the world., with a fortune estimated at nearly $2 billion
From: Neelam Raaj & Syed Akbar, August 2, 2020: The Times of India
The famed Jacob diamond that he used as a paperweight
From: Neelam Raaj & Syed Akbar, August 2, 2020: The Times of India

Sex, politics, Partition: The enthralling tale of the ‘world’s richest man’

It all started in 1948 when one million pounds belonging to the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad were deposited in a London bank. With two nations, and over 120 heirs claiming the Nizam’s cash, it took 72 years and a long legal battle to resolve the case

It’s one of the most curious tales from the Partition era, and it has more masala than any Bollywood potboiler — sex, politics, royalty, rivalry, lots of money — and for India, a happy ending with a win over Pakistan.

Let’s start with the ending, which came this month after a high court in London dismissed claims by the extended family of the eighth Nizam of Hyderabad, Prince Mukarram Jah, on 35 million pounds (approx Rs 332 crore) sitting in a London bank since 1948, thus ending a 72-yearold legal battle which came to be called the Hyderabad Fund case.

A year earlier, the court had thrown out Pakistan’s claim over the money, and divided it between Prince Jah, his younger brother and India.


Now for the man whose money this originally was — Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad and once the richest man on the planet who featured on the cover of Time magazine. His sexual exploits were legendary. In a piece for The Guardian, William Dalrymple wrote that after he died, Mukarram Jah not only inherited debt but also “a ridiculously inflated army of retainers: 14,718 staff and dependants, including 42 of his grandfather’s concubines and their 100-plus offspring”. Osman Ali is said to have used a diamond as paperweight, owned a fleet of Rolls Royces including a Silver Ghost Throne car and, according to a book by Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins, possessed a huge porn collection.


Even after British rule ended, Osman Ali Khan refused to join the new Indian Union. A little dig into history shows that the British had given three options to the dithering Nizam before leaving India in August 1947 — join India, join Pakistan, or remain independent. The Nizam had sought time and entered into a standstill agreement with India. Meanwhile, the Police Action took place, leading to the merger of the princely state with the Indian Union on September 17, 1948.

However, just before the annexation, the Nizam’s finance minister Moin Nawaz Jung transferred one million pounds to the account of Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, then high commissioner of Pakistan in London. One of the theories was that the princely Hyderabad state wanted Pakistan’s help to secretly purchase one lakh .303 rifles to withstand the might of the marching Indian Army. However, the money wasn’t transferred as the Nizam, probably under pressure from India, cabled the bank to freeze the transaction saying the money was deposited without his sanction.


The Nizam filed a lawsuit in 1954 against Pakistan and NatWest Bank, where the one million pounds — which has since multiplied to 35 million pounds — was deposited. The Indian government, which joined the fight later in 1965, said the Hyderabad Fund was rightfully theirs as the Nizam assigned his claim to the Hyderabad Fund to the President of India.

However, Pakistan invoked sovereign immunity which meant the case couldn’t proceed, and remained frozen till 2013.

Meanwhile, India-Pakistan relations deteriorated and despite occasional thaws, efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement came to naught.


In a newspaper column, T C A Raghavan, former Indian high commissioner in Pakistan, writes that in 2013 Pakistan made an about-turn from its ‘sovereign immunity’ stand by filing a case against the bank claiming the funds for itself. Its argument was that it had been given the money to buy weapons for the Nizam and had done so. In fact, it stated that Australian mercenary pilot Sydney Cotton had even made a few sorties over Hyderabad to drop arms in 1948. The Nizam, it said, had only reversed his stand following pressure from India after the accession.

But the change in Pakistan’s stand meant the ownership of the money could be decided in a court of law. India and the Nizam’s heirs accordingly became a party to this case by claiming ownership for themselves jointly.


The case was finally decided in favour of India and the Nizam’s legal heirs — Mukarram Jan and his younger brother Muffakham — on October 2, 2019, though the details of how the 35 million pounds will be divided between the two parties have been kept secret. The administrator to the Nizam’s estate got just 400,000 pounds which has to be divided among 120 descendants. “The court made it clear that it did not think the money was handed to Pakistan outright. There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan only held the money as a trustee and it actually belonged to the Nizam,” Paul Hewitt, the lawyer for Jah, told the BBC after the verdict.


For a man who was heir to one of the largest fortunes in the world, Mukarram Jah’s life hasn’t been easy. His troubles started when his grandfather died in 1967. “Everything was in disarray: the Nizam’s garages, for example, cost £45,000 a year to keep in petrol and spare parts for 60 cars, yet only four were in working condition, and the limousine supposed to carry the new Nizam from his coronation broke down. Most debilitating was the legal wrangling initiated by the several thousand descendants of the different Nizams, almost all of whom claimed part of Jah’s inheritance,” wrote Dalrymple. Even Mukarram’s father — disinherited for being a “moral pervert” — wanted a share. The fed-up prince first fled to Australia, leaving his estate to managers who plundered and sold whatever they could. His second wife, an Australian, entered into a bisexual relationship, divorced him and later died of AIDS. None of his five marriages worked out, and he now lives alone in a modest two-bedroom apartment in Turkey, says John Zubrzycki, the author of The Last Nizam: The Rise and Fall of India’s Greatest Princely State and one of the few journalists to have met him there. Zubrzycki told TOI that he would stop short of calling him a failure. “He failed to come to grips with the responsibilities of managing his estate and Hyderabad’s heritage, but he was also surrounded by people who gave him poor advice, who took advantage of his lack of experience and who were frankly just wanting to get whatever they could out of him. He constantly stressed that he was trained to be a soldier, not to take over the remnants of his father’s kingdom.”

Now 86 years old, Jah says he is tired of legal battles. Though the case relating to the 35 million pounds is settled, the other descendants have now filed a fresh case over the 400,000-poundsettlement the court-appointed administrator managed to get for the Nizam’s estate in the secret deal with the GOI and the two grandsons of the Nizam. However, Jah has relinquished his share of this money to the other 120 or so descendants.

Love Sex and Dhokha

Osman Ali was officially called His Exalted Highness, but was nicknamed His Exhausted Highness because of his extensive love life

He had a fleet of 60 luxury vehicles including a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

Some say he had the largest private porn collection in the world

His son Mukarram Jah married five times, first to Princess Esra from Turkey

Jah’s second wife was an Aussie girl call Helen, who got AIDS after an affair with a bisexual man and died. The third wife was a former Miss Turkey.

Assets in London

Indian govt, 2 grandsons to get £35m: UK HC

Naomi Canton, Nizam’s £35m to go only to Indian govt, 2 grandsons, July 23, 2020: The Times of India


The Nizam’s money, held in a London bank for about seven decades, will go to Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan’s grandsons Mukarram Jah and Muffakham Jah and the government of India (GoI). The London high court junked the claims of other descendants of the last ruler of the princely Hyderabad state.

Najaf Ali Khan, grandson of the last Nizam and about 120 others, claimed they had been deprived of their share of the £35 million (Rs 332 crore) which was split in a confidential pact between the GoI and the Nizam’s two grandsons. But the court prevented Najaf and others from getting their hands on the money. The London court last year had decreed that the money belongs to the GoI and the two grandsons while junking Pakistan’s claims.

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