It’s a long-standing dispute

August 02, 2014 11:33 pm | Updated April 21, 2016 01:59 am IST - Mysore

The dispute over the acquisition of properties of the Mysore royal family has a long history and its genesis can be traced to the developments that took place after Independence.

According to Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, wife of late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the last Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, entered into an agreement with the Government of India on January 23, 1950, as per which the government recognised the various moveable and immoveable properties, which includes the palaces, as private properties of the maharaja as quid pro quo for surrender of his sovereign powers to the government. The 26th amendment to the Constitution of India in 1971 abolished the privileges and privy purses of the rulers, but the government, in 1972, communicated that the amendment would not affect the ownership rights of private properties.

The last maharaja floated two private limited companies to develop the Bangalore Palace into a luxury hotel. But, he passed away on September 23, 1974. At that time, the palace was in possession of the two private companies floated by him. After 22 years of legal battle, the case was settled, but the Government of Karnataka passed a special legislation — Bangalore Palace Acquisition Act 1996 — to acquire the palace. In the interim period, the Urban land ceiling and regulation Act, introduced in 1976, tied up all the urban properties of the royal family, aggravating their financial hardship. There is a dispute over 430 acres of land at the Bangalore Palace, as the government tried to acquire it with a compensation of Rs.11 crore.

In 1976, a portion of the Mysore Palace was taken over by the State for maintenance and in 1988 Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar approached the High Court to claim that portion. The court, in its ruling on November 6, 1997, directed the State to hand over the management of the palace to the royal family. But the State filed a SLP in the Supreme Court, which was dismissed with a directive that the palace be handed over to Wadiyars. The State, instead, passed the Mysore Palace Acquisition Act 1998.

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