Swiss bank angle to Sivagiri Estate case

Rival familial claims over the vast properties of the Sivagiri Estate in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district has forced the Madras High Court to order a probe into a possible Swiss bank account, 64 years after the erstwhile Madras State enacted the Zamindiri Abolition Act.

The origins of this bitter dispute goes back to one Sri Varagunarama Pandia Chinna Thambiar who claimed to be one of the descendents of the Pandya dynasty that ruled over large parts of South India till the 15th century. Thambiar was the ‘Principal Land Holder’ of Sivagiri Estate.

After the Estates Abolition Act came into force in 1948, the Sivagiri Estate properties across Tamil Nadu including Chennai and elsewhere was managed by the designated Courts of Wards including the Tirunelveli and Chennai collectors. Petitioner R Padmini Rani of Tirunelveli, whose husband’s grandfather was Thambiar, through her lawyer moved the court saying that she was the rightful heir to the ‘branch family’, and that she alone was entitled to the properties as per Thambiar’s will. But her claim is contested by N Jagannathan, a relative.

Rani prayed in her petition that immovable properties of the Sivagiri Estate should be duly identified by the authorities and entrusted to her and the income accrued to the estate so far should  be given to her as well.

Even as the civil dispute was on for years, Rani said in her plea that Jagannathan claiming he “had been bequeathed the Zamin” properties had sought to ‘probate’ the will and got a ‘Letter of Administration (LOA)’. But the court, when she contested it, subsequently revoked the LOA in 2008.

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