The Junagarh Administration of Property Act, 1978

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At the time of Independence of India, Junagarh had a Muslim Nawab who ruled over a chiefly Hindu population. At the time when all the Indian states wanted to join the Indian Union, on 14th August 1947, Junagarh announced its decision to join Pakistan. On 13th September Pakistan accepted the request of the Nawab regarding accession. This was followed by massive demonstrations in Junagarh. The Nawab fled for Karachi and the administration of Junagarh soon collapsed. The Dewan sent one of his ministers to the leaders of provincial government, established for Junagarh by the Indian Union to negotiate a settlement. On 9th November 1947, the administration of the state of Junagarh was handed over to the central government.

The Junagarh administration of Property act was passed on 13th April 1948 to vest the property in the State of Junagarh to the Central Government. Under this act, the property which was legally vesting in the Nawab before Junagarh’s accession to India stood transferred to the administrator appointed by the Central Government. The administration under this act was empowered to deal with the property on behalf of the central government. It is expressly stated in the act that the administrator has the power to give full and effectual discharge of bank deposits, securities and shares with respect to the properties described in the schedule of the act. As per section 4 of this act, the Reserve Bank of India is mandatorily directed to issue the administrator duplicate securities in his name in lieu of the securities specified in part two of the schedule which deals with government securities. Section 5 provides that any kind of dealing in such property shall be deemed to have been void after 8th November 1947. Any claims with respect to the property so transferred is required to be submitted to the central government, who’s decisions are regarded final with no provision for appeal anywhere. Section 7 of the Act grants protection to actions taken in good faith under the act. This act announced the repeal of the Junagarh Administration of Property Ordinance 1947.  Under section 8, the Central Government has the power to add to the list of government securities included in the schedule by notification in the Official Gazette. Even though the act was passed on 13th April 1948, it was given a retrospective effect. Section 9 says that any action taken under the Junagarh Administration of Property (Ordinance) 1947 shall be deemed to have been taken under the act.

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Haji Siddik Haji Umar V. Union of India, supreme court case,1983, an appeal was filed for restoration of property of one Haji Saddik Haji Umar, where he had fled to Pakistan fearing the law and order situation at the time of accession of Junagarh to Pakistan before it was subsequently acceded to India. Junagarh which was initially a state administered by the British is now a district in Gujrat and is not administered under this act. This law is an obsolete law which is still in the statute books. The PC Jain Commission and the Law Commission has recommended its repeal.

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The supreme court case dated needs special mention here. After the Government of India took over the administration and control of the State of Junagarh i.e. 9th November 1947, the government integrated it with the State of Saurashtra. Between 9th November 1947 and January 20, 1949, the appointed administrator cancelled the grants in favour of the respondent and took possession of the properties. The respondents filed civil suits for the recovery of properties. It was held by the court that the orders under challenge arose out of and during the course of act of state and it could not be challenged before the municipal tribunals. There was no change of dejure sovereignty on 9th November 1947 when the administration was taken over. It was only in January 20th, 1949, that India assumed dejure sovereignty over Junagarh by its integration into the State of Saurashtra and the act of state came to an end.

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