Agartala: In a significant development over the dispute between the state government and Tripura’s royal family, the High Court of Tripura on Monday ordered that the ownership of the Neermahal or the Water Palace in Melaghar does not belong to the royal Manikya family.
Speaking with reporters, Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik said the division bench comprising Chief Justice AA Kureshi and Justice Arindam Lodh rejected the arguments made by the respondent and said that the property belongs to the state government.
“The High Court on Monday gave the judgment in favour of the state government and said that ownership of the heritage monument belongs to the state government. The then royal family head had handed over Neermahal to the state government and accordingly the ownership of the property belonged to the state. There is no element of doubt that the property is owned by the state,” Bhowmik said.
Royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Deb Barman and his mother Bibhu Kumari Devi had filed a petition in the local court and the order had declared them as the owner of Neermahal, following which the state government approached the High Court.
The former Tripura Congress chief wrote on his Facebook page, “Neer Mahal – I challenge the govt to provide one legal document to suggest that my father ‘gifted’ Neer Mahal to them, also I am glad that finally, the state government has admitted that no money was ever paid for Neer Mahal to my father or my family.”
“I will challenge the matter in Supreme Court but I must ask one question to all if the erstwhile royal family cannot protect their private property then what hope does a poor person have. Crores have been spent on legal cases, my father is no longer with me and my mother is 75 years old — Justice delayed is justice denied. I will not compromise,” Deb Barman further wrote.
The historic monument, also called the ‘lake palace’ of eastern India, was built by Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in 1939. It is surrounded by over 2,100 acres of water body known as Rudhrasagar.
The case has been long pending and one of the most discussed cases as hundreds of lives are connected directly or indirectly, with tourists visiting the palace in hordes.