Shri Pamarty Venkataramana is an eminent international lawyer at the Supreme Court of India. He is also a noted author, speaker, columnist and thinker. Known for eloquent arguments advanced in courts and original interpretation of the Laws. PVR (as popularly known), has been rendering memorable services to the nation irrespective of political personages. He is credited with having got foreign spy declared persona non grata through a civil court-trial apart from the most famous Nizam Jewellery case and related matters. Khushboo Agrahari interviewed this Legend of new India for Organiser.
What is so different about the fabled Nizam jewellery that there was such a long battle in different courts for years?
It is definitely the most fabulous collection of rare, precious and the most unique antique jewellery you can ever find on the planet since the Stone Age.
Why was there a court battle?
History is replete with tales of wars for possessing prized items, beautiful people and blessed lands. And, we all know jewellery does not grow on trees or spring up from seeds. Every precious piece of jewellery in the world has a history, is full of geography and remains an evidence of physics. Metaphysics lends a wholly different perspective to the whole saga of such unique marvels of Mother Nature. This rarest of rare collections of the world too attracted many powerful and wealthy folks. Each one of them wished to possess the rare collection. But, to whom does this belong and upon whom does the rightful ownership vest in, was the bone of contention.
What actually transpired between the last Nizam and the Government of India?
It is important to know some historical truths:
a) Sardar Vallabhai Patel was instrumental in preventing the carving of a Central Pakistan in erstwhile princely State of Hyderabad Deccan.
b) Nizam was asked to submit the list of his immoveable properties which was scrutinised by the Government of India and the approved list comprising of 50 pages, called the Blue Book came into being.
c). Nizam was allowed to form distinct Trusts for safeguarding personal interests of his declared wives, sons, daughter, grand children & assets. Life-interest was secured for himself as well as his legal-heirs.
d). The Government of India was a signatory to these private trust-deeds and hence, the Parliament had to approve this act of Government of India.
e). It passed the Nizam ( Trust Deeds ) Validation Act, 1950 which states that all provisions contained in these deeds shall have the ‘force of law’.
f). The Finance Secretary of the Government of India automatically became the ex-officio Chairman of these Trusts.
So, was it all smooth between the last Nizam and the Indian Government?
No. Osman Ali Khan Bahadur changed colours like a chameleon. When about 45-trucks of gold-bricks were transported by him via Bombay to Pakistan,Sardar Patel ordered 'Operation Polo' for liberation of Deccan Hyderabad ( and Maj Gen J N Chaudhury was successful in defeating the sinister designs of Nizam and his band of Razackars(Muslim force ). This force was the ISIS of that era and had indulged in large-scale killings of Hindu peasants and families, a
genocide that infuriated Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
What happened after surrender of the Nizam to the Indian Government?
Post-merger developments are noteworthy to grasp significance of this fabled collection of jewellery. The last Nizam was the world’s wealthiest man, richer than the Queen of England, by virtue of his collection of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, rubies, jade and many other items including golden cots, bath tubs, slippers studded with diamonds and, so on. Thus, it was all of phenomenal value.
Why was there a tussle for ownership?
Since then, several rounds of intra-family litigation as well as against the Government of India have been waged by real legal-heirs as well as a plethora of illegitimate claimants, across all rungs of hierarchy of courts and the other wings of administration.
Is it right that this particular matter has seen several MPs, MLAs and a battery of lawyers contesting ownership ?
Indeed so! Trustees have been found guilty of breach of trust, acting in a cavalier fashion and have been, time and again, castigated by all courts of law, including the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. Many questions were raised by MPs and MLAs in both Houses of the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assembly.
Is it true that after you have stepped in to take over the matter, this huge collection took shape of being ‘national wealth’?
Yes. Many rounds of court battles were fought by luminaries for the last five decades and in the new
millennium, covering several aspects such as:
a). The Jewellery Trust case gained more prominence when the Government of India 'purchased' a Collection from the Trust, per arbitration award approved by apex court and passed by the Parliament of India, in 1994.
b). All wealth of the erstwhile Nizam vested in the Government of India after his cessation and subsequent to the Standstill Agreement.
c). Landmark judgment cancelling a so-called ‘certificate of succession’ issued by Nizam to his eldest grandson (AIR 1969 AP 423) declared that after becoming a part of the Republic of India, he too was like any other ordinary citizen of this democracy.
d).So, he could not act as an
extra-constitutional authority or try to subvert the Constitution
e). Only the Government of India is the absolute owner of all this national wealth. As such, no State Government (not even the present – day Telangana State) has any legal right or moral authority to demand shifting of the Nizam’s Jewellery Collection to a permanent museum to be housed there.
On behalf of whom did you fight?
On behalf of Princess Fatima Fouzia, eldest granddaughter òf the last Nizam— Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur and daughter of late Prince Waleshan Moazam Jah Bahadur, the Junior Prince. And, the next two generations too are being represented by me to ensure justice for them in palace properties, etc.
Is it true that you had to face many rough situations while saving the national wealth from anti-national forces?
Yes. It is a professional hazard every soldier faces in line of his righteous duty. And, in my view, each citizen is a soldier for national development.
You have said in a television interview that this single collection owned now by the Government of India can help materialise all the dreams of Prime Minister Modiji ,for India. How is this possible?
It is a priceless collection. We are in an advanced world today. This is the age when you can eat the piece of cake and have it too. The formula can only be divulged to the nation’s head. Suffice to say that if this particular possession of pride is properly utilised, seventy years of national debt can be wiped away. Net
result- Ache Din for all Indians.
We are aware that you are a legend for many in the legal fraternity and a youth Icon for having rendered yeoman service to the nation—unsung yet stellar. What is your message to our readers on ‘Nationalism’ ?
Only the spiritual fibre can imbibe spirit of nationalism in a person. Loyalty-Devotedness-Kindness typify India’s culture and, the hoary past will only disappear when we create a glorious present. So, let the glory of dead and gone heroes remain confined to the history books. Let one and all live free, breathe free and be freed from shackles of differentiation on various imaginary factors. ‘One India: All Indians’ is the motto of ‘Save National Wealth’ campaign which I have launched. Wealth encompasses knowledge, learning, dance, music, art forms, medicinal systems and above all else, the signature-tune of all ages of Hinduism, viz; vasudhaiva kutumbakam i.e. Universal Brotherhood.