Nizam’s jewels: Family seeks settlement of unresolved tax issue

Hyderabad, Jan 12 (IANS) Family members of VIIth Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan have urged the government of India to resolve the Nizam Jewellery Trust income and wealth tax issue pending for last 26 years.

Nizam’s grandson Najaf Ali Khan told IANS on Tuesday that he has written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to resolve the issue as most of the beneficiaries of the trust are senior citizens facing health and financial problems. Many of the beneficiaries have expired, he said.

Khan, who is the president of Nizam Family Welfare Association, said despite their cooperation with the income tax department by submitting requisite information sought from time to time, the issue remained unrseolved.

He urged the minister to direct the officers concerned to look for one-time settlement of the issue.

He recalled that in 1950s Mir Osman Ali Khan created various trusts for the benefit of his family members. One such trust was the Nizam Jewellery Trust which was being administered by its trustees who were empowered to sell the jewellery. Trustees included Prince Muffakham Jah and a government-nominated trustee from the finance ministry at the level of joint secretary.

After a prolonged litigation with the intervention of the Supreme Court, the central government agreed to purchase Nizam’s jewellery for Rs 206 crore in January 1995. The corpus was distributed among about 114 Nizam family beneficiaries. Of them 39 beneficiaries have expired so far and most of the remaining are senior citizens facing serious health and financial issues.

When the trustees were about to hand over the jewellery to the representative of the Government of India, the Income Tax Department raised a total demand of Rs.30.50 crore towards arrears of income tax and wealth tax. The amount was paid from 206 crore which included Rs.15.45 crore arrears of income tax and wealth tax. A major portion of this amount later got resulted in refunds.

According to Khan, these refunds were wrongly adjusted with the instruction of trustees who never proposed one-time settlement with the income tax department.

The other amount of Rs.14.05 crore was kept in lien with the department for future tax liabilities in the State Bank of Hyderabad, which is now State Bank of India.

He alleged that the trustees mishandled and dragged the issue. When things came to the knowledge of the beneficiaries of the Trust in 2010, the senior most trustee Prince Mufakkham Jah resigned as a trustee to cover up his mistakes and kept this issue hanging fire and did not take the responsibility of resolving the pending tax issue for which the family members have been facing a very hard time.

According to records, the Trust beneficiaries are liable to receive a refund along with lien amount of about Rs. 14 crore but the Income Tax Department states that the beneficiaries have Rs 8.54 crore tax dues.

“We have requested the finance minister for a one time solution and settlement as we are regular tax payers. We hope that she will look into the issue and give necessary direction to the officers concerned,” he said.

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