It Was One Of India’s Longest Running Cases

Vaibhav.Ganjapure@timesgroup.com

Nagpur:

Three months after TOI published a report on one among India’s oldest court cases that was pending for over 67 years, the Akola court finally disposed of it on April 8. For 66 years, three months and 12 days since its filing in 1952, the case moved from trial to appellate to high courts and came back with directives to taluka (TILR) and district inspector of land records (DILR) to measure the land as per original records of November 2, 1934.

The civil court had directed the land records department to re-measure all plots after it was found that plot no 79, the one in dispute, was not located where it was expected to be. “Plaintiff had purchased the plot without physically locating it. Thus, plaintiff is not entitled for relief of possession,” fifth joint civil judge Mohini Nanaware ruled.

The court granted relief to the petitioner as per his prayer for the refund of Rs 400, the cost at which the plot was purchased on August 22, 1949, by original plaintiff Dr Keshao Tunkikar. This amount of Rs 400 is to be refunded with 1% per month interest to petitioner from 1952 when the case was filed. That works out to a little over Rs 12.5 lakh today.

The property was purchased from original defendant Uttamrao Patil, while Zabuji Ingle was another defendant, as he claimed he resided on the disputed property.

TOI in its exclusive report highlighted Maharashtra’s oldest case, pending through three generations of both plaintiffs and defendants and even lawyers, all awaiting an outcome. As per the court’s order, Sharad Wankhede, legal heir of original defendant Patil, would have possession of entire plot and would refund Rs 400 with 1% per month interest to Shobha Nande, who is Dr Tunkikar’s daughter.

On August 1, 2011, the trial court presided over by judge DM Deshmukh last heard the case and directed that the plots claimed by both applicants and defendants were in their respective places and nobody is claiming possession of the other’s plot. He asked the DILR to measure the entire areas as per original records of 1934. Since then there is no progress till this year, except the related files, which changed hands.

After TOI’s report of January 19, the judiciary took cognisance and directed the Akola principal judge to expedite the case. Subsequently, Judge Nanaware issued contempt notice to district superintendent of land records (DSLR) for delay in measuring the plot of just 800 sqft of land. Accordingly, the land was measured and it was found that plot no 79 never existed and the vendor had misled Dr Tunkikar.

The judge pointed out land officer’s report where he had clearly stated there is mistake in mentioning the boundary on west side of the disputed property. “Mention of plot no 79 on west of suit property appears to be wrong. While concluding the report, the officer has opined that plaintiff’s vendor has mentioned four boundaries of Wankhede’s plot by mistake and therefore, it’s impractical to grant relief to the plaintiff,” she said.

The respondent’s heir will get refund of Rs 400, the cost of the plot in 1949, with 1% monthly interest, which amounts to around Rs 12.5 lakh today