HC admits blind man's petition for govt house

Phone booth operator Raju Dhanavate has been fighting to gain possession of a room allotted to him in 2007

In a glimmer of hope for a visually impaired telephone booth operator, who has been fighting to gain possession of a room in BDD chawl at Parel that was allotted to him by the Housing department on humanitarian grounds, the Bombay High Court (HC) recently admitted his petition.

Visually impaired telephone booth operator Raju Dhanavate

Appearing on behalf of Raju Dhanavate, advocate Uday Warunjikar submitted an affidavit before a bench comprising Justices Mohit Shah and Roshan Dalvi that the room was allotted to him by the State Housing department in 2007.

"The order was subject to whether the room was available and vacant, and since both these conditions were satisfied, the room was allotted to him.

However, the other residents contended that the room which used to be a lavatory, has now been redone and is being used for poojas and studies, and is therefore unavailable," said Warunjikar.

Commenting on the issue, Dhanavate, who operates a telephone booth at the Government College Hostel, said, "In reality, the room is used only during Ganeshotsav. Otherwise it is vacant."

No authority?
Meanwhile, the government claimed that the Housing department, which allotted the room in 2007, had no authority to grant such permissions. It contended that the authority lay with the Collector.

Warunjikar argued, "His (Dhanavate's) claim cannot be rejected merely on the basis that the correct authority was not petitioned. The executive engineer of the Public Works department granted the permission, and his authority is derived from the Housing department."

Ordering the government pleader to take instructions and make the Collector a party to this petition, the
HC deferred hearing till January 30.

The petition
As per the petition, Raju Dhanavate had written to several ministers, including the then deputy chief minister and public works minister, requesting them to grant him a tenement.

Earlier, the Director of BDD chawls had accorded with Housing department's decision, saying that the toilet was no longer in use as each room had by then received its own water connection. Accordingly, Dhanavate obtained the permission on July 25, 2007. 

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