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Delhi HC rejects claims of ownership Of Red Fort

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    28th Dec, 2021

Context

A petition filed by a woman seeking possession of the Red Fort on the ground that she is the legal heir of the last Mughal EmperorBahadur Shah Zafar II was rejected by the Delhi High Court.

About

The complex structure

  • The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan.
  • It was originally known as “Qila-e-Mubarak” (the Blessed Fort).
  • Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex.
  • This fort was the seat of the Mughal empire for around 200 years, until it fell into British hands.
  • The last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was coronated here in 1837, during which time it is said that his powers did not extend beyond the boundaries of his palace.
  • The Red Fort has been listed as a World Heritage Site byUNESCO in 2007 for its historical as well as cultural importance.

The case

  • Sultana Begum claimed that she was the widow of the great-grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar II.
  • It was argued that her family had been deprived of their property by the British East India Company following the first war of Independence in 1857, after which Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled from the country and possession of the Red Fort was taken away from the Mughals.
  • Sultana said that she is the widow of the Mughal emperor’s great-grandson Mirza Mohammad Bedar Bakht, who had “successfully escaped from Rangoon”.
  • The petition stated that Bakht was recognised as the inheritor of Bahadur Shah II in 1960 by the Government of India and after the former’s death, she started receiving pension.
  • Mirza Muhammad Bedar Bakht died on May 22, 1980, and Sultana Begum was granted a pension by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi on August 1, 1980.
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