Mumbai: Deceased woman's neighbour claims her house is his, her nephew lodges complaint

May 09, 2018, 08:10 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Neighbour of woman whose will it was, claims she left the property to him; her nephew had lodged a complaint against him

The room is in a chawl at Currey Road
The room is in a chawl at Currey Road

A woman's original will holds the key to the right over her property worth approximately Rs 80 lakh in South Central Mumbai. But it is missing and the blame game has begun.

The property at stake is a 120 sq ft room at Kamgar Swa Sadan Chawl, Currey Road. A Bombay High Court division bench of Justices R M Savant and Sarang Kotwal, in their order dated May 3, directed petitioner Mohan Nikam, 67, her neighbour, to proceed to the trial court as per the directives of a Sessions Court order for return of property.

Advocate Nilesh Gala, who represented Nikam said, "I had moved a writ petition to seek instructions from the division bench, to direct the investigating officer and/or judicial clerk at Mazgaon court to verify and give a statement under oath, as to who is in possession of the original will, or certify a photocopy of the original will with the seal of the trial court. Then my client can apply for probate, to claim rightful ownership of the house. We will now move the magistrate court to ascertain possession of the original will, as per the HC directives."

Mohan Nikam, the neighbour, claims he had been helping Draupadi Bhagwat, and therefore she desired to leave the property to him
Mohan Nikam, the neighbour, claims he had been helping Draupadi Bhagwat, and therefore she desired to leave the property to him

The will in question
According to Nikam, the deceased Draupadi Hari Bhagwat, 70, stayed in a room above his. He claimed to be the rightful beneficiary of the room as per a will that she had allegedly notarised in 2001. The will (a copy is with this paper) states that Draupadi was married to Hari on December 9, 1954, and stayed with him at the said room. Hari and she had a son named Dattaram, who passed away in the year 1960. Hari passed away in 1975.

The will alleged that she was not in touch with her or her husband's relatives. She claimed for about 10 years, Nikam had been helping her, and therefore she desired to leave the property to him. Draupadi died on October 12, 2001.

The complaint
Nandu Bhagwat, Draupadi's nephew, alleged that Nikam executed a false will in his favour. He alleged Nikam intended to transfer the property in his name using forged documents, and hence registered a case with Kalachowkie police against him.

Sessions Court acquits Nikam
The Metropolitan Magistrate Court found Nikam guilty and sentenced him to two years imprisonment and a Rs 10,000 fine. This was challenged by Nikam in the Sessions Court. It set aside the lower court order and acquitted Nikam. He is waiting for the will that he claimed he gave police, to be returned to him.

 

Asked how a paralysed woman travelled from Currey Road to Andheri to sign the will, Nikam said, "She had partial paralysis on one side of her body (right side), but could move about. She signed the will before two witnesses and a lawyer." He said she could use her right hand to sign.

Expert speak
Senior property lawyer Vinod Sampat said, "The statutes related to succession laws have classified different legal heirs under various laws like Hindu Succession Act etc. If there is no 'will' or legal heir, then such properties can be acquired by the government."

Gains from redevelopment
A developer wants to take over the chawl but there is a court stay. Nikam said the developer has promised each room owner, a corpus of Rs 4 lakh and monthly rent of over Rs 17,000. Each will get a flat of around 450 sq feet. This means Nikam will get two flats and double the compensation.

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