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The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the government to refund Rs.80 lakh fine to the heirs of Maharani Gayatri Devi of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family, which was penalised 35 years ago for possessing undeclared gold.

The income tax department had seized 800 kg of undeclared gold which was listed as the private property of Gayatri Devi’s husband, the late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh in 1975.

The department had seized it as the royal family of Rajasthan had not declared it as stipulated by the Gold Control Act (GCA), 1968.

Justice S. Muralidhar said the action taken by the government was not in accordance with the law as Maharaja Sawai Man Singh died prior to the tax raid in 1975.

‘Proceedings under the GCA, which have not been initiated against a person during his lifetime, cannot be initiated and continued against his estate after his life time,’ the court added.

Gayatri Devi, considered to be the wealthiest royalty of Rajasthan, died July 29 last year before the case could be settled.

The court order came following a petition filed by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh’s successor and eldest son Brigadier (retired) Sawai Bhawani Singh. He challenged the government’s decision to impose the fine of Rs.80 lakh for possessing undeclared gold.

The court said the amount will be refunded to the estate of the late Maharaja together with simple interest of six per cent per annum from the date on which the fine was paid till the date of its refund.

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