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The Will of Vithalbhai Patel

Adopted from the anecdote of N.C Mitra - Subhas Chandra Bose - The Crisis. On 2nd October 1933, Vithalbhai Patel, elder brother of Ballabhbhai Patel, made his Will in Switzerland. He had appointed Mr. Govardhanbhai Patel and Dr. Purshottamdas Patel to be the executors. His entire assets after disposal of the four minor gifts were to be handed over to Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose, to be spent by him or his nominee for the political upliftment of India preferably for the cause of publicity on behalf of India in other countries. In his Will he also desired that in case of his death in Europe, Subhas Chandra Bose should take charge of his body and make necessary arrangements for sending it to Bombay for cremation on the Choupatty sands alongside the place where Lokmanya Tilak's body was cremated. Vithalbhai Patel died in October 1933, and Subhas Chandra Bose fulfilled his desire regarding his cremation.

The probate of the Will of Vithalbhai Patel was obtained from the High Court of Bombay in September, 1934. The payment to Subhas Chandra Bose was never made. The executors contented that a scheme had to be made and trustees should be appointed with the approval of the executors before the fund could be paid to Subhas Chandra Bose. They suggested names that would seem outrageous - like M.A Jinnah, for being the trustee. The contention was unjustified and uncalled for and the implied intention was malafide. The executors knew that Subhas would never agree to the proposal for the sheer indignity of it. Subhas Chandra Bose rightly said that a scheme would be formed once the funds reach him and in view of the clear directions in the Will the question of appointment of trustees did not arise. He however said that he would, when necessary, appoint a consultative committee to assist Subhas in carrying out the directions of Vithalbhai Patel. The executors were working with the clear and explicit approval of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The executors, when asked directly whether their contention stemmed from their lack of confidence on Subhas's integrity now directly opposed the bequest saying that it was invalid in law. The executors put the matter in court on 29th January, 1939, just before the Presidential Election and Tripuri Congress session, thus revealing their hidden agenda. Justice Wadia, a British stooge, of Bombay High Court, held the legacy to be void and gave the amount to the heirs of Vithalbhai Patel, viz. the family of the Sardar Patel. The matter went upto the appellate authority but the Chief Justice confirmed the judgement of the original court in September 1939. In October 1940, Vallabhbhai Patel, on behalf of the heirs of Vithalbhai Patel sent a cheque of Rs 1 lakh that represented the amount bequeathed, to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad for acceptance by the Working Committee and for appointing a committee consisting of himself, Jamnalal Bajaj, Bhulabhai Desai and the President of the Congress, to spend the amount as the committee would think fit. The letter written by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in accepting the fund suggested that the contentions were specifically in order to address the anxiety that the funds were applied for the purpose intended. The moot question here is, was this anxiety justified or does it point to a hidden sinister agenda of the Congress leaders to deprive Subhas of his key characteristics - Integrity - which they continued doing even after his disappearance.

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