Fifteen-year-old Saba Khan was thrown out of her home justa week before she was set to appear for her all-important SSC exams. Not one to give up, the plucky teenager soldiered on, borrowing books from her friends to continue preparing for the exam. With no roof over her head, she read for hours under the blazing sun.
Months later, the tide has finally turned for Saba, who is reaping the happy fruits of her perseverance — not only has she passed the exam with an enviable score of 87 per cent, a court order has also restored her family to their home. Taking a report carried by MiD DAY into account, the Bombay High Court last week permitted the Khans to continue staying at the tenanted property that the BMC had ousted them from.
Justice NM Jamdar observed, “Considering the fact that the premises are unoccupied, the appeal of the petitioner needs to be heard on merits. As the monsoon season is ongoing, and the petitioner is living in the corridor, it will be in the interest of justice to permit the petitioner to occupy the premises in question till disposal of the appeal.” MiD DAY’s report (‘Week before SSC exam, 15-year-old loses her roof’, February 28, 2013) was annexed to the petition.
On December 26, 2011, the family received a notice asking them to vacate their home, which is a tenanted premise belonging to the BMC. Lalmohamad Nawasali Khan (50), Saba’s father, appealed against eviction proceedings initiated against his family by the BMC’s Estate Officer in the City Civil Court. The family suffered a second blow when their lawyers failed to show up at the court on a day of the hearing. Their petition was dismissed.
Though the lawyers moved an application to have the matter restored, that too was rejected on February 28 this year. While the application was pending, the BMC and police showed up at Khan’s doorstep to evict him, his wife and five children. They then sealed the house.
Advocates Sanjiv Sawant and Abhishek Deshmukh, appearing on behalf of the family in the Bombay High Court, argued that the BMC’s actions were ‘high-handed’. Justice Jamdar noted in his order that the lower court ought to have imposed costs, instead of rejecting the application outright, a move that deprived Khan of his right to appeal – and ousted him from his home for the last 35 years.
With barely a week to go for her exams, Sawant and Deshmukh moved the High Court, which on March 11 directed the civic body to allow the ‘reasonable request’ of providing Saba access to the house, so she could retrieve her textbooks. Last week, the court decided that “considering the equities of the case,” the BMC could not be allowed to dispossess Khan’s family or prevent them from living in their home. Speaking to MiD DAY, a happy Saba said, “Despite the court order, they did not open the locks to allow me to get my books. I had to borrow books from my friends to study. There was no place to study, and I would have to sit right under the sun. But I scored 87.64 per cent in my exams.”
Saba is also glad that her mother’s health has improved, after taking a turn for the worse during the traumatic eviction. More trouble?
While the family have won this battle, new ones may be in store for them. If Khan loses the case before the City Civil Court, he and his family will have to leave. The court observed, “The occupation of the petitioner in the premises is granted by considering the equalities of the case and is not a reflection on the merits of the case of the petitioner in appeal. Unless contrary order is passed by any court, the petitioner will vacate the premises in his possession within a period of four weeks from the date of the order passed by the City Civil Court, if the said order is against the petitioner.”
P.S: She scored 87% with borrowed textbooks and notes