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Senior Citizens Act: Bombay High Court Refuses Relief To Son Who Became Mother's Tenant & Dishoused Her Without Rent

Sharmeen Hakim
19 Jan 2022 4:27 AM GMT
Senior Citizens Act: Bombay High Court Refuses Relief To Son Who Became Mothers Tenant & Dishoused Her Without Rent
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The Bombay High Court has directed a son who "deprived his mother from leading a normal life" to vacate the house "expeditiously", noting that the mother had suffered immensely since over five years. Justice Girish Kulkarni observed that it was "astonishing" how the 48-year-old son had invented a novel way of entering the septuagenarian mother's house. He signed a rent agreement with...

The Bombay High Court has directed a son who "deprived his mother from leading a normal life" to vacate the house "expeditiously", noting that the mother had suffered immensely since over five years.

Justice Girish Kulkarni observed that it was "astonishing" how the 48-year-old son had invented a novel way of entering the septuagenarian mother's house. He signed a rent agreement with her, with no intention of honouring the agreement as he didn't pay a single rupee to her until she did not approach the authorities against him.

"In the facts of the present case, the rent agreement is required to be clearly looked at only as an attempt and a struggle on the mother's part to receive benefits from the tenement, so as to avail such small money from the petitioner for her survival/livelihood. Even to make such payment to the mother, the petitioner defaulted, for no justifiable reason. The petitioner in fact deprived the mother of her right to "live a normal life" apart from the fact that he has failed to maintain and support her livelihood," the court observed.

Facts of the Case

The court was hearing a writ petition filed by Suryakant Pawar against an order passed by the Tribunal under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The Tribunal, by an order passed in February 2018, directed Pawar to vacate his mother Kusum Pawar's house in Central Mumbai's Prabhadevi area. The court noted that Suryakant appeared to have entered the tenement "on a specious ground that his children are taking education in a nearby school."

The court also noted that the petitioner thought of a novel method to dis-house the mother of the tenement by taking advantage of her old age, her lack of education and that she being not literate and benighted.

The Tribunal had passed the order on Kusum's application against her eldest child, Suryakant under Section 4,5 and 23 of the Act. According to Kusum, she was recognised as the absolute owner of the house by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation after her husband Kisan passed away. The land belonged to the Corporation and the area went into redevelopment. Even the developer of the plot recognised Kusum as the sole owner of the house.

Suryakant argued that after his father's demise, he was a co-sharer in the property and therefore, he had the right to reside in the house. His lawyer also argued that there should not be any problem in letting Suryakant occupy the premises when he was ready to maintain the mother and she was residing in their native village in Maharashtra.

The court noted that the rent agreement signed between Kusum and Suryakant in July 2016 was for just 11 months and in fact, the agreement itself said that Kusum was the absolute owner of the premises.

"This appears to be another clear case where the petitioner has no other intention but to enjoy the tenement exclusively, ousting the roof over his mother's head, taking advantage of her incapacity at such an old age. There appears to be no justification whatsoever, for the petitioner to take possession of the mother's premises even if the petitioner claimed that he is the co-sharer on the ground that the tenement had devolved on the mother from his father and she had limited rights as a co-sharer. The petitioner could not have abused the law by ousting the mother claiming an exclusive entitlement to remain in possession of the premises," Justice Kulkarni observed. The court also said that the petitioner cannot set up a defence which was contrary to the agreement to which he is himself a party.

The court also accepted Kusum's lawyers arguments on the issue whether a Tribunal can pass such an order or not. Various judgments on this point, including one passed by Justice Kularni himself from last year, were cited.

The court observed that several judgements interpreting provisions of Senior Citizens Act had brought about new dimensions to make the Act's provisions more meaningful in catering to the interest of the senior citizens, in fulfilling the legislative intent and object behind the said legislation.

The court then noted a few such judgments – S. Vanitha Vs. Dy. Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District and Others (Supreme Court); Shweta Shetty Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. (Bombay HC); Dattatrey Shivaji Mane Vs. Lilabai Shivaji Mane & Ors (Bombay HC) and Ashish Vinod Dalal & Ors. Vs. Vinod Ramanlal Dalal & Ors. (Bombay HC).

Case Title: Suryakant Kisan Pawar vs Deputy Collector, Mumbai and others

Case No: WP 2141/2019

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw(Bom) 9

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment


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