Gujarat Government Cancels Sale Of Properties To Muslims, High Court Stays Orders
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 16— The Gujarat High Court two days ago stayed the orders of the Gujarat government that cancelled the registration of sale deeds of 15 properties because the buyers in all the cases happened to be Muslims.
The stay order was given by Justice B D Karia.
While the two cases pertain to buying of properties in Tandalja area on the outskirts of Vadodara, the other thirteen properties are flats in multi-storied Varsha Flats in upmarket Paldi area of Ahmedabad.
The state government took the action on complaints of two Hindu neighbours in case of the Vadodara properties while in case of Ahmedabad, the complainants happened to be members of the Hindu Jagran Manch. In both the cases, the complainants opposed the sale of properties to Muslims.
Surprisingly, the owners of all the properties in the two cases happen to be Hindu themselves.
In both the incidents, the state government took the decision without issuing notices either to the buyers or sellers.
The Principal Secretary (Revenue) of the state government based its action on provisions of the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which is short called as Disturbed Areas (DA) Act.
The Act was first brought in 1991 to prevent distress sale of immovable properties owing to frequent communal riots. The Act was later on amended several times to include more areas in DA, particularly in Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
According to the provisions of the Act, properties can be sold out and bought in DA only after permission by the district collector or some officials having been delegated the charge of the district collector. Any violation of the Act invites six month’s imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000.
Mumbai-based Yunus Fazlani and his wife Zeenat Fazlani bought two bungalows in Tandalja area after getting clearance from the collectorate office as also from the police commissioner’s office. The Deputy Mamlatdar, Vadodara, in his inquiry report on March 14, 2019, said, “there is no objection in granting permission under Disturbed Areas for the sale of properties to Fazlanis”. Similarly, Vadodara police commissioner on June 1, 2019, also cleared the inquiry and recommended that “transfer of the properties can be done to the Muslim buyers”.
The deputy collector, based on the two inquiries and on the affidavit of the seller that he was getting fair price of his property, granted permission to the owners to sell their properties to the Muslim buyers on June 20, 2019. The sale deed was executed on August 8, 2019.
However, when the Hindu neighbours objected and represented before the district collector, the latter ordered fresh inquiry. Surprisingly, the fresh police inquiry said that “since the buyers happened to be the only Muslims in the said residential society, it can lead to communal violence in future”.
Based on the fresh police inquiry, the district collector and the two Hindu neighbours- Dr. Harshil Shah and Harsh Rana- represented before the Principal Secretary (Revenue) and the latter on September 9, 2019, suspended registration of the sale deed and directed to “maintain status quo in all government records.”
In case of Varsha Flats in Paldi, the building had become dilapidated and it was reconstructed by R N Builders after the owners of all flats entered into a contract with the builders. Initially, it was a 24-flat building. But the builder added 32 more flats, giving 24 flats to the previous owners without cost and sold out 32 others to recover his cost of construction and profit. Out of 32, he sold out 13 flats to Muslims after taking permission under Disturbed Areas Act.
But after complaints from Apurva Shastri and Jigar Upadhyaya of the Hindu Jagran Manch, the sale deeds in this case were also suspended.
Both the orders were challenged in the Gujarat High Court by the buyers. The HC on Monday ordered stay against the state government’s orders in both the cases.