Ebrahim Manzil in Parel is set to go for redevelopment, but three families of the building are now standing in the way, alleging irregularities in the audit and in the transfer of the plot to its heir
Ebrahim Manzil, a building in the heart of Parel leased by the BMC for R1 per annum back in 1949, and a 670-sq m plot next to it are all set for a Rs 100-crore facelift. However, three tenants of the building stand in the way, refusing to vacate their homes.
According to the developers’ legal representatives, Qureshi had given his irrevocable consent and is now indulging in delaying tactics
The families claim to have learnt through documents obtained under the RTI Act that the demolition of their building is being carried out merely on the basis of a visual structural audit and not a scientific assessment, in violation of BMC norms. A substantial portion of the building has already been razed, with 26 other tenants having vacated the building.
Shakil Qureshi insists that the residents of Ebrahim Manzil have been denied details of the development plan
They have also alleged that the private structural auditor was allegedly appointed without floating tenders or inviting competitive bids. Ebrahim Manzil, along with the vacant plot that encloses it, was leased for 999 years by the BMC to one Sonseth Narayanseth Sarvankar, which was transferred via his wife to their grandson, Ashok Sarvankar in 2005. This transfer is a contentious one from the legal standpoint, the families have alleged.
Shakil Qureshi, one of the tenants opposing the redevelopment, said, “Till date, the tenants have paid a monthly rent to the BMC.
While most houses of the building have already been demolished, three families, including mine, are opposing the redevelopment proposed by Shree Devijugai Developers. We believe that we have been denied details of the development plan, essential to safeguard our interests.”
Qureshi has produced the BMC receipts to substantiate his claims (copies with mid-day). He added, “Earlier this week, the civic body issued notice to us to vacate the property, while the validity of their ownership is still being heard in the court of law.” Another tenant, Farid Qureshi, who approached the high court for intervention, said, “We have the audit report of the building received under the RTI.
The report makes adverse remarks against the structure based merely on visual inspection and without deploying any scientific method stipulated by the BMC. Carrying out the redevelopment plan solely on the basis of the dilapidated condition of the building is questionable,” he said.
Farid, a chartered accountant by profession, added, “We have been living here for the last 24 years. There are elderly people and kids in our families; we have to scrutinise each and every aspect before we allow our houses to be demolished,” he said.
Representing the Qureshis, advocate Bhavesh Parmar cited Supreme Court judgments in similar cases, adding, “The questionable lease title has changed hands thrice so far. In 2005, late Girijabai Sarvankar, at age 87, executed an unregistered and unstamped Power of Attorney in favour of her grandson Anand Sarvankar.
Till date, the current legal heir has failed to produce any probate or Letter of Administration (see box) on the alleged last will and testament dated June 21, 1963, alleged to have been executed by the late Sonseth Narayanseth Sarvankar.”
mid-day has a letter written by the Madekar and Co Advocates and Solicitors, who are legal representatives of Shree Devijugai Developers. This letter alleges that Shakil Qureshi had given his irrevocable consent to the proposed redevelopment in the presence of the deputy municipal commissioner on March 11, 2010.
According to the letter, ‘the tenant is now indulging in delaying tactics with a mala fide intent to raise unreasonable demands upon their clients’.
The other side
Ashok Sarvanka, heir to the plot, said, “There was a time when builders would get extortion calls from the underworld; now similar tactics are used by tenants looking to squeeze more out of developers for their personal gain. Ninety per cent of the tenants who have willingly vacated the flats are not fools to do so.
Now, for no fault of their own, they have also been held to ransom.” Sarvankar said that all their legal documents are in order, with no discrepancies pertaining to the title of the property.