Jinnah House, the property in south Mumbai where Mohammad Ali Jinnah stayed before founding Pakistan, will be taken over by the Ministry of External Affairs. The ministry plans to convert it into a venue for talks and banquets on the lines of Delhi’s Hyderabad House.
The Jinnah House is a sea-facing bungalow situated in Mumbai, Maharashtra and belonged to Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is reported to have written to a Mumbai BJP legislator, informing him that the ministry was in the process of transferring Jinnah House to its name. It will then refurbish the building and use it for official functions.
The Jinnah House
Originally known as the South Court, the Jinnah House is situated in Malabar Hill, south Mumbai, covering 2.5 acres land.
Mostly moss-covered today, the building was designed in the European style by architect Claude Batley. For its construction, skilled masons were called from Italy; the total cost incurred is estimated to be Rs 2 lakh at that time.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah had built the house in 1936 after returning from England. He then took over the reins of the Muslim League and fought for the creation of a separate country, Pakistan, for Muslims.
Soon, Jinnah House became a pivotal place where leaders of the Muslim League discussed strategies for achieving their objective, talked to the Congress and its leaders, and tried to convince the British for a separate nation.
The’watershed talks’ on the Partition of India were held in this house between Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah in September 1944.
On 15 August 1946, another talks was held on the matter between Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru, the then leader of the Congress.
After Creation Of Pakistan
After becoming the first Prime Minister of independent India, Nehru never declared Jinnah House as the property of a rival. The idea was to either return it to Mohammad Ali Jinnah or rent it out to someone with his consent.
On the other hand, although Jinnah went to newly formed Pakistan, he wished to spend his last days at Jinnah House.
A year after Jinnah’s demise in 1948, it was declared an evacuee property and the government took the house under its control.
The British High Commission operated from Jinnah House till 1981. It moved out when Pakistan approached the Indian government to use the building as its Consulate.
The Jinnah House Controversy
In 1939, Mohammad Ali Jinnah proposed in his will that his unmarried sister, Fatima Jinnah,would be the sole inheritor of his property.
The Partition resulted in Fatima Jinnah’s shifting to Pakistan. She obtained a certificate of succession from the Bombay High Court in 1962, six years before the Enemy Property Act, 1968 was legislated.
Jinnah’s only daughter Dina Wadia, who married and stayed back in India, also laid a claim on the property. She took the stand that the Hindu inheritance law should be applied in the case, as two generations ago,the Jinnahfamily followed Hinduism.
Jinnah’s mother, Mithubai, and his wife, Ratanbai, were Hindu while Jinnah himself was a Khoja Shia Muslim.
The Indian government rejected her claim and told the Bombay High Court that the will dictated that Jinnah House belonged to Fatima Jinnah solely. With Fatima’s move to Pakistan, the property now came under the control of the Custodian of Enemy Property, the government argued.
The Supreme Court ruled against the Custodian of Enemy Property in 2005, maintaining that it was only a trustee while the enemy was the owner.
However, in 2016, Parliament passed the Enemy Property (Amendment) Act, 1968, making the government the owner of enemy property.
Resurrecting The Jinnah Debate
In March this year, Mumbai’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha demanded that the structure be demolished. It symbolised Partition and “was the place from where the conspiracy of Partition was hatched,” he said in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Expressing concerns about the safety of Jinnah House,Pakistan demanded that it should be handed over to the country.
The Lokmanya Tilak Swarajya Bhoomi Trust (LTSWT) also claimed the property for creating a mural depicting Lokmanya Tilak’s legacy. According to the trust, Mohammad Ali Jinnah had great respect for Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Convert, Transform And Refurnish
The ministry recently wrote a letter to Lodha, saying that was in the process of taking over the property.The MLA is reported to have expressed satisfaction at the move, saying this would end the controversy over how the property should be utilised.
Visited what is known as Jinnah House, Malbar Hill, Mumbai, a heritage building under the possession of @ICCR_Delhi; along with local MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha ji! Reviewed present conditions before preparing a plan for its rejuvenation and purposeful use! pic.twitter.com/wrfHjWM47J
— Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (@vinay1011) February 25, 2018
The ministry wants to remodel and renovate the bungalow on the pattern of the Hyderabad House in Delhi. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is believed to have approved the transfer of the property from ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) to MEA.