New Delhi: Bringing to an end a 35-year-old
legal battle, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the
government to refund Rs 80 lakh to the erstwhile Jaipur royal
family of Maharani Gayatri Devi which it had collected from
them as fine for having 800 kg of undeclared gold.
The gold, listed as the private property of Gayatri
Devi`s husband late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh, was seized by
Income Tax department in 1975 as the family had not declared
it to the authorities as stipulated by the Gold Control Act
Justice S Muralidhar held that the action taken by the
government was not in accordance with law as Maharaja Sawai
Man Singh died prior to tax officials` raid at the premises of
the royal family in 1975.
"Proceedings under the GCA, which have not been initiated
against a person during his lifetime, cannot be initiated and
continued against his estate after his life time," the court
Gayatri Devi died on July 29 last year during pendency of
The court passed the order on a petition filed by Man
Singh`s successor and eldest son Brig. (retd) Sawai Bhawani
Singh, challenging the government decision to impose the fine
of Rs 80 laks for possessing undeclared gold.
"The order of the central government, to the extent that
it sustains the order of the administrator, ordering
confiscation and imposing a fine of Rs 80 lakh in lieu of
confiscation of the seized gold, is hereby set aside," the
high court said.
It said the amount of Rs 80 lakhs will be refunded to the
estate of the late Maharaja together with simple interest of
six per cent per annum from the date on which the fine was
paid till the date of its refund.