When Justice Gautam J Patel asked a plaintiff in an open court as to what it is precisely that he claims, the plaintiff said that his decree entitles him to demand actual physical possession of the Bombay High Court premises and everything in it and the whole of the city’s ‘C’ (Pydhonie, Kalbadevi and Zaveri Bazaar) and ‘E’ (Byculla) wards.
The court was hearing a suit filed by Sushma Samanta, who was represented by Sukumar Samanta, who claimed that he is entitled to possession of three properties of 209 square metres.
Justice Patel noted in his order that he asked three questions to the plaintiff — first, what it was he claimed to be entitled to, to which he replied, “he had a decree for C Ward and E Ward.” Justice Patel further asked, if that meant he was entitled to physical possession of the Bombay High Court. Sukumar replied, “Yes,” and the court noted that, he added “…he would pay all salaries (including, presumably, of the judges; I did not care, or even dare, to go further down this particular road)”.
Justice Patel further asked Sukumar, on what he based this claim, and he responded by saying that since the decree and the conveyance mentioned street numbers, he was entitled to all properties and lands in those two city wards.
Justice Patel noted, “I then attempted, perhaps ill-advisedly, to explain to Samanta that he has no suit, no decree and no order against the State Government or the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, in whom public lands vest; nor against any other property owner or lessee; that a decree for three properties held by one individual cannot be expanded like this; that while many things may be ‘in the cloud’, his decree is not, and that it is not a cloud or a shroud that blankets two city wards; that his decree is limited to three properties, two at Dhanji Street in Zaveri Bazaar and one in Kamathipura in E-Ward; that the High Court is not in Zaveri Bazaar, and it is most emphatically not in Kamathipura. Samanta’s decree is for three properties with an aggregate area of about 209 sqm. That is about the size of two court halls: the ground coverage of the High Court building is 9,747 sqm. The campus is even larger, and each of the wards is several square kilometres. His claim is, therefore, not just incorrect. It is entirely without legal foundation and is wholly preposterous.”
Justice Patel further held, “Samanta must be stopped. Once and for all: Samanta is not entitled to possession of one millimetre of property beyond the area and the Cadastral Survey numbers of the three properties mentioned in his decree and conveyance. If he has not got possession of the three decreed properties, his remedies are elsewhere, and not in execution against the High Court or the State Government.”