High Court boots out 82-yr-old squatter from airport land

Jun 16, 2012, 07:47 IST | Samarth Moray

Farmer claims possession by virtue of having lived on land for decades, but manipulation of records goes against him

The Bombay High Court earlier this week dismissed a petition filed by an 82-year-old Marol resident challenging his eviction from 10 acres of land spread over Marol-Bapnala. The land is required by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) for expansion of the international airport.

Bigger plans in store: There are several slums lining the International airport that authorities want to demolish in order to expand the airport. File pic

Edward Machado was served an eviction notice from the AAI on January 3, following which he approached the high court, pointing out that the notice had come even though a case relating to the same issue was pending in the City Civil Court since May 2011. The high court on Tuesday ruled that the eviction officer’s powers are not affected by the case pending in the City Civil Court. Machado also claimed adverse possession of the property, which is a claim on the title by virtue of having possessed the land for a long period of time.

Machado, an agriculturist, stated in his petition that he was the owner of 28.52 acres in Marol and Bapnala villages near Sahar that belonged to his family since 1944. He stated he was dispossessed of 18.52 acres by the AAI in 2009. In his petition, he said he continued to own 10 acres with crops standing on six to seven acres of the agricultural land near Hotel Leela. According to the AAI, Machado is in unauthorised possession of the land and is a trespasser. The AAI contended that the land was acquired in 1953 and then leased to MIAL; it said Machado’s claim was not bonafide. Machado said he had filed a police complaint on December 1, 2004, after the AAI allegedly tried to dispossess him of his property on November 18, 2004.

He submitted that owing to police inaction, he moved the City Civil Court. A division bench of Justices Sharad Bobde and Ramesh Dhanuka in their judgement concluded that Machado had contrived to have his name “illegally inserted” in the revenue records for the land, and was therefore not entitled to any relief from the court. The judges noted that Machado in his proceedings before the City Civil Court had initially not claimed possession, and had later amended his petition to add this clause, ostensibly after having manipulated the records. The bench observed: “Litigants who rely and resort to false and fabricated entries in their favour are not entitled to protection of this Court.”

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