A Parsi resident of Vadodara, Feroz Falibhai Contractor, who sold a plot of land to a Muslim identified as Firoz Muhammad Patel, has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking quashing of an FIR filed against him by the president of the housing society on August 30 alleging that he misused his “Muslim-sounding name” to evade scrutiny by the administration ahead of the sale. The matter is expected to be heard on November 23.
Contractor sold a plot in the Samarpan Housing Service Co-operative Society in the Tandalja area of Vadodara to Patel under the appropriate provisions of the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 or what is popularly known as the Disturbed Areas (DA) Act. The housing service society is meant for upkeep and maintenance.
However, Manish Puranchandra Malhotra, claiming to be the president of the housing service society, filed a complaint against Contractor at JP Road police station, under provisions of the Disturbed Areas Act and IPC sections pertaining to providing false information, breach of trust and forgery. Malhotra in his FIR has alleged that Contractor “despite being a Parsi, did not disclose his religion…” in the documents submitted before the government authorities (district collector’s office) pertaining to the transfer of plot to a Muslim. The FIR also alleges that Contractor “took advantage of his Muslim-sounding first name… so as to get permission (for transfer of property) under the Disturbed Areas Act.”
In September, the Gujarat High Court had stepped in to quash orders by the local administration of Vadodara that had cancelled permission granted earlier to Patel for construction on the plot of land sold by Contractor, as reported by this paper.
Contractor in his petition submitted that the requisite forms do not ask for details of religion and that he had disclosed all necessary information in full, as was required. Contractor has also submitted that the order of sale of property is unchallenged and the complainant is neither a government authority and essentially has no locus in the case.
Responding to Contractor’s plea, Malhotra filed an affidavit in September, submitting that Contractor, while submitting his documents with respect to transfer of property, had “misguided authorities with his place of residence as Tandalja, Vadodara, which is a Muslim populated area in the entire city.”
While the matter was listed for hearing on Wednesday, the court was on leave and has now been fixed for November 23.
A Vadodara sessions court of Judge Girishkumar Pasi had rejected Contractor’s plea for anticipatory bail on October 16. The court opined that a prima facie case was made out of the FIR and that Supreme Court judgments set a precedent that whosoever gives fraudulent information to a government authority, they may not be granted anticipatory bail. Contractor is expected to move the Gujarat HC with a plea for anticipatory bail by next week.
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