New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today
directed the Centre to refund Rs eighty lakh to the family of
late Maharani Gayatri Devi of the erstwhile Jaipur royal
family 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
Bringing to an end the 35-year old legal battle, Justice
S Muralidhar held that the action taken by the government was
not in accordance with law as Maharaja Sawai Man Singh had
already 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
During the pendency of the case Gayatri Devi died on
July 29 last year.
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 fine of
Rs 80 laks for possessing undeclared gold.
"Absence of a specific provision in the GCA that can make
a dead person liable it is not possible to sustain the
impugned passed by the Central Government," the court said.
"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
It said that the amount of Rs 80 lakhs will now 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 in lieu of confiscation was paid till the date
of its refund.