Mumbai: HC clears will that was contested by her paternal relatives; uncle gets 20% of estate, only family member to be offered a share.
Over 11 years after actor Parveen Babi died, the Bombay High Court has accepted the legitimacy of her will, easing the path of her philanthropic endeavour to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and children.
The will, which was produced by her maternal uncle in 2005, was probated last week after relatives from her father’s family dropped their claim that the document was fake. Their decision ended the long-running feud over an estate that includes a sea-facing, fourbedroom flat in Juhu, a haveli in Junagadh, jewellery, deposits of at least Rs 20 lakh in banks, and other investments.
According to the will, 80 per cent of Parveen’s wealth should be used to form and run a trust, which will help underprivileged women and children from the Babi community of Junagadh, where she was born. The Parveen Babi Trust will be headed by her 82-year-old uncle, Muradkhan Babi, who was close to her and who has been given 20 per cent of the estate. No other family member has been offered a share. Ten per cent of the trust’s funds will be channelled to St Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad, where the star did her master’s in English literature before taking up modelling.
The total value of the estate is yet to be determined as until now it had been under the control of the Administrator General and Official Trustee, which manages properties of people who have not left behind a will.
Parveen Babi who starred in some of the most popular films of the 1970s and 1980s was found dead in the 2,300-sq ft Juhu flat in Rivera Apartments on January 22, 2005. The 56-year-old actor, who lived alone, was thought to have died because of complications resulting from diabetes.
The police discovered an unresponsive Parveen after breaking open her door. Worried neighbours had alerted them after she didn’t pick up milk and newspapers from the doorstep for three days. Initially, it was thought she had left no document declaring heirs. But months later, Muradkhan, who lives in Junagadh, came forward with a will that he said was drafted in 2002 and that gave him 20 per cent of the estate. By then, the Administrator General and Official Trustee had taken control of Parveen’s properties.
Parveen’s paternal relatives, who were left out of the will, termed the document as fake, and the dispute wound up in the High Court. They finally relented earlier this year and accepted the will was genuine, according to Muradkhan’s lawyer, MD Nagle. On October 14, Justice GS Patel ordered issuance of ‘Letters of Administration’ as per Parveen’s last wishes. The Administrator General and Official Trustee will now hand over her estate to people mentioned in the will. Muradkhan will be the managing trustee and president of the philanthropic trust envisioned by Parveen. Its governing body will include two members from the Babi community and two picked by Muradkhan.
“Parveen Babi has left 20 per cent of her property for her maternal uncle Muradkhan Babi for his guidance and service, and the work he will undertake for the trust,” said advocate Nagle.
An emotional Muradkhan said he was relieved the court case had ended. “Parveen was very close to me; she grew up in my arms. The legal battle was never really about money or the 20-per cent share she has given me. It was about her last wishes. I will use her estate to create a trust that will keep her alive forever,” he said.
The nawab of the former princely Junagadh State had given a haveli named Dhanbai to Parveen’s father, Wali Mohammed Khan, on lease. In her will, she has expressed the desire of acquiring it and turning it into a housing facility called Jamal Bakhtewadi for members of the Babi clan. Jamal Bakhte was her mother’s name.
The High Court has asked the parties concerned to execute the directions in the will before December 23.