The widow of a freedom fighter has lost a legal battle to get back the money her husband had deposited in Shanghai while serving in Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, with Delhi High Court saying government cannot raise a dispute with another country on private claims.
“We are of the view that merely because the Government of India, on a representation being made, has forwarded the claim of the petitioner to the Embassy of India at China, would not create an obligation on the Government of India to take any further steps in the matter.
“The Government of India is under no obligation to raise a dispute with a foreign government qua the private claim of its citizens,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said while dismissing her plea.
The order came on an appeal filed by Harbhajan Kaur, the widow of the INA officer who died in 1979, against a single judge’s order dismissing her plea for direction to the government to take appropriate action to release the money deposited by her late husband in his accounts with Shanghai’s General Post Office.
Her husband had served in the Indian National Army, which was formed by nationalist leaders like Subhash Bose and Rashbehari Bose in 1942 in Southeast Asia during the 2nd World War with an aim to secure India’s freedom from British rule.
In her plea, Kaur said, on a representation made to the Chinese authorities, she was on October 9, 2003 informed that the claim for the money deposited in the accounts stood abandoned as per the policies of their government.
The Shanghai post office, in a letter to Kaur, had said that her claim stood abandoned for failing to register it within the assigned time after the issuance of the policy of the Chinese government.
The single judge was also not convinced with her contentions and dismissed her plea in December 2015 saying the “petition is also highly belated and suffers from delay, laches, acquiescence and waiver”.
Concurring with the findings of the single judge’s order, the bench headed by the Chief Justice said, “We find no infirmity with the order of the Single Judge under appeal.
“The petitioner was unable to provide us with any specific obligation under which the Government has to pursue private claims of petitioner against a foreign government.”
Kaur had submitted that the government was under obligation to protect and ensure aid, advise and help to emigrants under the Emigration Act, 1983.
Her counsel had further submitted that it is an established principle of international law that any property, particularly belonging to aliens, cannot be confiscated without just compensation and the fact that they suffered confiscation only because they were in service of the Indian National Army.