A Delhi Tribunal set up under the Maintenance and Welfare of the Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, on Thursday ordered restoration of the L-1/10 Hauz Khas Enclave house to octogenarian Lotika Sarkar stating that she “has been divested, at the age of 87, of her right to life with dignity through fraud by the Dhoundials who took advantage of her age and poor health”.

Additional District Magistrate and presiding officer A.V. Prem Nath and members C.P. Gupta and N.N. Dewan also declared “void’’ the gift deed on the grounds that the transfer of Ms. Sarkar’s house occurred after the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, came into force.

Acting on the complaint of an NGO — which had charged that Ms. Sarkar’s house in Hauz Khas Enclave, as well as her financial deposits, investments, instruments and documents had been wrongfully misappropriated by Priti Dhoundial and her husband, senior IPS officer Nirmal Dhoundial, along with their son Ashwin Dhoundial — the Tribunal said when a gift deed has been secured through deception, through a criminal act in which property belonging to a senior citizen has been deceitfully taken without her actual legitimate consent on false pretences by a so-called illegal foster son’s wife, it has no validity in law and on that ground also it declared the same as void.

Stating that “in this case the Dhoundials used not gas cutters or house breakers to take over the house of Ms. Sarkar but instead used ‘nice paperwork’ as a tool in this property crime”, it said the three Dhoundials “may not think of themselves as part of the criminal elements of society but their systematic actions over a period of time has put to shame even skilled professional thieves who make their livings from burglary, loot, larceny and robbery etc.”

The Tribunal held that Ms. Sarkar, a pioneer in the fields of law, women’s studies and human rights who taught criminal law and conflict of laws at Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and was a member of the Government of India‘s Committee on the Status of Women in India, had been divested of her right to life with dignity through fraud by the Dhoundials.

Accordingly, the Tribunal directed the Sub-Registrar to make necessary entries and also display on his notice board that the said gift deed has been nullified with immediate effect.

“In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, which is a pointer to how vulnerable Delhi’s ordinary senior citizens may be, and in the interest of justice”, the Tribunal also directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South District) to immediately evict the Dhoundials from Ms. Sarkar’s house.

It said the DCP would be responsible for the safety and security of Ms. Sarkar at her Hauz Khas Enclave house. The Station House Officer of the Hauz Khas police station has been told to file a compliance report by November 3.

The District Social Welfare Officer (South District) has been directed to visit Ms. Sarkar at least once a week and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Hauz Khas) has been told to post a fortnightly report to the Tribunal on Ms. Sarkar’s welfare so that she is not subjected to further vulnerability.

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