In Surat, Gujarat the Disturbed Areas Act was circumvented and permission to construct buildings was obtained through seemingly deceitful means. This is a very shocking incident which has come to light. The permission to construct a building was obtained by one Raihan Heights project, next to a temple by ‘temporarily’ bringing up a Hindu partner in a Muslim owned enterprise in Surat’s Adajan area. This is to be a bid to hoodwink the law.
Elaborating on the details of the case, Surat-based activist Asit Gandhi said, “On 14th March, 2020 Rander area in Surat was brought under the Disturbed Areas Act. In this particular case, where the sale of land took place, there are three huge residential societies where residents are predominantly Hindus and there is a temple nearby. On 16th March, 2020, just four days after the area was notified under the Disturbed Areas Act, ‘Evergreen Corporation’, a partnership firm with Maqsood Godil (50%) and Mohammad Irfan Chamadiya (50%), brought in new partners, Shabnam Junaid Motiwala (10%), Ahmed Junaid Motiwala (10%) and Prakash Dholariya (10%) and diluted their own share to 35% each.”
Gandhi informed that the firm then applied to purchase land from Dhansukh Bejanwala, Mahesh Bejanwala, Arvind Bejanwala and Hasmukh Bejanwala. In the said application, they said that the buyers were Prakash Dholariya ‘and others’, thereby hiding the religious identity of the other partners, informed Gandhi. On 24th March, 2020 nationwide lockdown was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, so all procedures were put on hold. Owing to this, the due process that needs to be done in such cases which fall under the Disturbed Areas Act, were not carried out.
Raihan Heights, Adajan, Surat
Gandhi informs that the Disturbed Areas Act is wrongly interpreted that it applicable where at least one party between buyer and seller are either Hindus or Muslims. The thing is, any such transactions in such areas would require to follow due process. This is to preserve the religious and community value and identity of the areas which are susceptible to demographic change. A Collector would carry out formal inquiry after any such application is made and police and district magistrate have to carry out the inquiry. He said that in such cases, the authorities have to physically go to the property and take information that is publicly available and even take written approval from people affected. This includes those who live nearby that particular property as well. Only once the procedure is followed and Collector is satisfied will he approve the transfer of property.
In this case, when the coronavirus pandemic related lockdown ended and the unlock was being phased in, on 20th June, 2020, the Deputy Collector approved the sale of immovable property without any formal inquiry. Further, what is interesting is that even before the transfer of property was done on 20th June, on 11th June, 2020, the builders had already applied for construction permission on the said land.
Gandhi further said that Surat Municipal Corporation, without approval from the Collector approved the construction activity to take place on the property. One of the conditions of transfer of such property is that if in future it comes to light that facts were hidden, the deal is liable to be cancelled. If false information is provided, it becomes a case for cancellation of deal.
Interestingly, after the permission for construction was cleared, Prakash Dholariya was removed as partner from the firm. On 29th August, 2020, as per a notarised agreement, the partnership firm ‘Evergreen Corporation’ removed Dholariya from the firm. Now, Maqsood Godil (35%), Mohammad Irfan Chamadiya (35%), Shabnam Motiwala (15%) and Ahmed Junaid Motiwala (15%) are the partners.
Raihan Heights, in what appears like a deceitful transaction, started constructing 5 high rise buildings with 260 flats. After the facts came to light, the Deputy Collector City Prant Surat has now cancelled the original transaction of sale of land between Evergreen Corporation and the Bejanwala family.