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Mumbai: ‘Elderly parents subjected to harassment in bid to grab property’

HC refuses to quash order evicting singer from father’s house

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
November 30, 2021 6:22:33 pm
The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by the singer challenging the November 27, 2020 order of the Welfare Tribunal, formed under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. (Representational)

Observing that senior citizens and elderly parents in Mumbai, especially from high-income society, are being subjected to harassment by their children for property, the Bombay High Court recently refused to quash an order of the Welfare Tribunal evicting a singer and yoga instructor from her 95-year-old father’s flat in south Mumbai.

A division bench of Justice Gautam S Patel and Justice Madhav J Jamdar in the November 25 judgment observed: “Indeed, it is our experience that in this city, and particularly or most especially amongst the wealthy of this city, senior citizens and elderly parents are being subjected to all kinds of harassment and deprivation in their twilight years. In case after case, we have complaints from senior citizens that their own sons and daughters are harassing them.”

It added: “In every case, the harassment is an attempt to somehow grab the senior citizen’s property in his or her lifetime without a thought spared to the mental or physical health, wellbeing or happiness of these seniors. The present case is no different.”

The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by the singer challenging the November 27, 2020 order of the Welfare Tribunal, formed under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and deputy collector, on a complaint made to it by her father, who also has three other daughters.

The father, through advocates Sujay Kantawala and Aditya Iyer, said that he does not want his daughter, the petitioner, to remain or reside in his flat in south Mumbai. The court noted that the father is the sole and absolute owner of the said flat and the daughter had no right of any kind in the said immovable property.

The 95-year-old man, through advocate Kantawala, submitted that though he is a widower with several age-related health ailments, he is being continuously harassed and mistreated by his petitioner daughter. He said that the daughter was in Germany for some time and she came to India in 2015, and moved into the flat unannounced. The father said that though she was to stay for a short period, she never left.

“He has been hospitalised several times and was in no state of physical or mental health to control the petitioner and perhaps even thought that she might help in his old age. But, he says, his expectations were dashed as she has contributed nothing to the house. She has been rude, aggressive and that her conduct has deteriorated and worsened over time,” Kantawala argued.

The father added that the harassment by his daughter continued and his demands for her to vacate the house were not accepted as she continued to demand ‘her share’ in the flat and therefore he approached the tribunal seeking relief to evict her.

Advocate Pradeep Thorat for the petitioner daughter said that the tribunal acted without any jurisdiction while ordering eviction and there were significant illegalities in the procedure conducted by the panel.

The court refused to accept Thorat’s contention that the petitioner was not allowed to lead evidence by the tribunal and said that it would have been considered if she had any legal right to the flat.

“We do not believe that it is the statutory intent that the harassment to a senior citizen should continue while the tribunal is flooded or inundated with some evidence or the other only to prolong or delay matters. The one thing that senior citizens do not have the benefit or luxury of is time. It is not on their side, and every day’s delay before a tribunal like this hurts senior citizens exponentially more than the younger generation,” the bench observed.

While rejecting the plea, the HC refused to interfere with the tribunal’s order and directed the petitioner to remove her personal belongings from the said flat. It vacated the interim order preventing the other three daughters from entering the flat.

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