Disturbed Areas Act: Gujarat HC upholds bungalow sale to Muslim buyer in Vadodara

Police outside the bungalow in Vadodara. File

The Gujarat High Court on Friday held the appeal filed by the Vadodara collector before the Special Secretary Revenue Department (SSRD) as non-maintainable in the case of a Rs 6-crore residential property transaction between a Vadodara businesswoman and a Muslim businessman under the Disturbed Areas Act, on the ground that the statutory right to appeal is provided only against rejection of an application before the SSRD. Thus the sale of the property has been upheld.

Five residents of the locality Keshavbaug Society - Dr Harshil Shah, Harsh Rana, Ankur Agrawal, Santosh Ramandana and Girish Pathak - submitted before the court that they will withdraw their appeal before the SSRD opposing the property transaction. Based on their submission, the court of Justice Bhargav Karia recorded that their appeal thus stands withdrawn.

Vadodara bungalow

The court also quashed the SSRD interim order of September 25 that had entertained the appeals of both the collector and neighbours. The common order for both appeals had ordered a stay on the transaction, pending final disposal of appeals and had also directed to maintain status quo in all the government records with respect to the transaction. The dispute arose when businesswoman Geeta Goradia sold her property on the Vasna Tandalja road of Vadodara to businessman and educationalist Faizal Fazlani for Rs 6 crore in August this year by the collector’s approval.

The property transaction, based on fair price and free will, was objected to by members of Samarpan Society, where the bungalow is located, on the basis that the provisions of the Disturbed Areas Act does not permit the sale of a property to a Muslim in a Hindu-dominated area and vice versa until each immediate neighbour of such property consents to the deal.

The deal was stayed after an order of the Special Secretary of Revenue Department (SSRD) based on the objections filed by the neighbours. The HC had stayed this order of the SSRD in October upon the filing of the petition by Fazlanis. The petition of the Fazlanis now stands disposed.

However, the five have now moved two petitions at the HC opposing the transaction and contending that their objections to this transaction are not being considered. The court issued a notice to all the respondents, which include the Goradias - Geeta and Nirmalaben- as well as the Fazlanis - Faisal and Zeenat - along with the state government through the district collector and deputy collector. The respondent is expected to file a reply by January 10.

The Fazlanis had already executed the Registered Sale Deed dated August 8, 2019, in pursuance to the permissions dated June 20, 2019, granted by the Deputy Collector under section 5(2) of the Disturbed Areas Act.