Mumbai: Single mom takes on builder, society over redevelopment

The Borivli resident claims that her residential society and a local builder are redeveloping her apartment building without her consent; in a counter allegation, the builder says the complainant has ulterior motives

In what sounds like one of Mumbai’s building redevelopment nightmares, a Borivli resident yesterday filed an FIR against society members and a local builder, alleging that they were tearing down her apartment building without her consent. While the woman claims that she is opposed to the terms of the redevelopment, the builder alleged her complaint was based on ulterior motives.

Amishi Honawar said the building, Jessica Apartments, was forty years old and in good condition. She said it did not need to be redeveloped
Amishi Honawar said the building, Jessica Apartments, was forty years old and in good condition. She said it did not need to be redeveloped

As a single mother, Amishi Honawar lived with her college-going son at their flat in the Jessica Apartment Cooperative Housing Society, situated at Dr Karande Marg, Borivli (West). Honawar, who is an air hostess with an international carrier, said the issue began in April 2014, when the society began the paperwork for redevelopment of the building.

Honawar said she was not satisfied that the building even needed to be redeveloped, as it was forty years old and in a good condition. Besides which, she alleged that the terms of the redevelopment, such as bank guarantee and monthly rent were not kosher. Despite her opposition, however, the demolition work began in another part of the building last month.

Disturbed by the constant comings and goings of workers, Honawar and her son moved to her mother’s house in Gorai. Due to her odd work timings, Honawar would sometimes visit her flat at Jessica Apartments for overnight stays, she said. However, that came to an end yesterday, when she got a call from a neighbour saying demolition work had started in earnest.

When she attempted to check her house, however, the workers blocked her way. She discovered that even her water and power supply had been cut. “I was not allowed to enter my own house by the workers on Thursday morning. The entire building, including the area around my flat, was covered in rubble and debris.

I decided to approach the police to seek justice,” said Honawar. The Borivli police registered her FIR against the builder, Yogesh Bhatt, and a few of the committee members in her society under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Police Inspector Vasant Pingle, of Borivli police station, said, “We have detained the site supervisor Dinesh Gawas and will be also detaining the builder, Yogesh Bhatt, of Vinayak Constructions for further questioning and to ascertain if they have all requisite permissions for carrying out the redevelopment work.”

The other side
On the other hand, the developer Yogesh Bhatt, categorically denied all allegations and claimed that it was Honawar who had introduced him to the society and then later backtracked.

“Honawar was initially very cooperative, but eventually had undue financial expectations. Playing on the emotional card of being a single parent, she filed charges against me. She has an ulterior motive behind the complaint,” he alleged.

Divyakant Suchak, the society secretary, echoed the same sentiments, “Out of the eighteen society members, she is the only one opposing the redevelopment. We suspect that she may have some extra demands from the builder.”

Expert speak
Advocate Vinod Sampat, who specialises in cooperative society law, told this paper, “Even if one member or tenant in a society refuses to give consent for the redevelopment or refuses to vacate, the case has to be decided in the court.”

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  • Aseem Swarup23-Jul-2015

    The way you have worded the heading is to automatically bias the reader by insinuating that some great injustice is being done to a poor single mother. If 17 of 18 members have agreed for redevelopment, then she has to show good cause to oppose redevelopment. Generally in majority of such cases, it is a case of minority trying to browbeat majority by threatening to go to court. In Coop society, will of the majority is supreme and no trivial cause is tolerated by the courts.

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