Delhi High Court rejects the petition of heir of Bahadur Shah Zafar II for the possession of the Red Fort on the grounds of inordinate delay of 150 years in filing the claim for property

In a petition filed before the Delhi High Court in the case of Sultana Begum v. The Union of India & Ors, the petitioner claimed ownership of the Red Fort owing to her being the legal heir of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II. Vivek More, the learned Advocate for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner is the widow of the great-grandson of the emperor, wherein the learned Advocate argued that the British East India Company seized the Red Fort from the petitioner’s ancestors after the First War of Independence of 1857 while acquiring the possession of the Mughal fort and exiling the emperor from India. A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli questioned the more than 150-year delay in claiming ownership over the property by the petitioner, wherein the bench said, “If you claim injustice was done to you by the British East India Company in 1857, then why is there a delay of over 150 years in approaching the court? What were you doing for all these years?”

The bench noted that the petitioner lacks any documentary evidence to prove her hereditary relation to the said emperor, wherein the bench questioned the validity of the claim by the supposed non-relative of the emperor. The learned Advocate for the petitioner contested the illiteracy of the petitioner to explain the delay in filing the said claim. The bench quashed the petition on the grounds of inordinate delay by the petitioner in filing the claim.

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