The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to hand over two flats in the posh south Mumbai area to their owner, 93-year-old Alice D’Souza, who has been fighting an 80-year court battle to gain possession of her property.
The court directed the state government to “hand over vacant and peaceful possession of the subject matter premises to the petitioner owner (Alice D’Souza) after taking its possession from the present occupants within eight weeks”.
The building was taken over in 1942, under the then Defence of India Act, which allowed the British rulers take possession of private properties for national defence.
The High Court in its order observed that despite de-requisition orders passed in July 1946, the flats were never handed back to the owner, Alice D’Souza.
The properties are presently occupied by the legal heirs of a former government official.
Ms D’souza in her petition had sought a direction to the Maharashtra government and the Collector of Mumbai to implement the July 1946 de-requisition orders and to hand over possession of the flats to her. The possession of other flats in the building was handed back to their owners, according to the petition.
Her petition was opposed by the present occupants of the flat who are the legal heirs of one DS Laud, who moved into the premises in the 1940s under the requisition order. Laud was a government civil services officer at the time.