NEW DELHI: Former Delhi University Professor Lotika Sarkar has finally got back her house in the Capital’s posh Hauz Khas Enclave area.
Priti Dhoundial and her husband, Indian Police Service officer Nirmal Dhoundial, informed the Delhi High Court on Thursday that they were ready to hand over the property to Ms. Sarkar immediately. Following their submission, Justice S. N. Dhingra directed the Delhi Police to ensure that the sealed property was handed over to the 87-year-old retired Law Faculty professor, widow of the late ICS officer and prolific writer-columnist Chanchal Sarkar.
The High Court had earlier this month ordered sealing of the disputed property on a petition by Ms. Dhoundial and her family challenging an order of the New Delhi Tribunal set up under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, for restoration of the property to Ms. Sarkar.
The restoration of the property to Ms. Sarkar on Thursday took just a few minutes with the Judge first asking Ms. Sarkar, who was present in the courtroom, whether she had gifted the property to the Dhoundials. She confirmed this with regret saying it had been a mistake on her part but at the same time expressed her desire now to get it back.
Thereafter Justice Dhingra asked the Dhoundials whether they were ready to return the house to her. They readily agreed to respect Ms. Sarkar’s wishes, saying, “The property was given to us out of love and affection, and if she wants it back we don’t have any problem.”
Ms. Sarkar also informed the Court that she had gifted the property to the Dhoundials without any force or coercion. The courtroom proceedings were marked by a bit of drama with Priti Dhoundial breaking down while answering the Court’s queries about the association of the two families.
Thursday’s happy ending for Ms. Sarkar came after long months of agony and trauma when she had to run from pillar to post to get back her property. The Dhoundials maintained all along that the property had been gifted to them by way of a valid deed. They had earlier agreed to the Court’s suggestion to vacate the house till the petition challenging the Tribunal’s order was decided.
The Tribunal had passed the order on a complaint by a non-government organisation, All India Centre for Development of Education and Environment. In its order the Tribunal had declared the gift deed void, saying that the transfer of the property had taken place after the Act came into effect. However, the High Court quashed the Tribunal’s order following an amicable settlement of the dispute.