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John Baptist house demolition case: Civil Court rejects affidavit, Says SAC is the legal owner

John Baptist house demolition case: Civil Court rejects affidavit, Says SAC is the legal owner


Mangalore Today News Network

Mangalore, Aug 26, 2014: The city civil court of Mangalore on Tuesday dismissed five applications filed by Mr John Baptist Lewis seeking injunctions seeking restoration of building and claiming possession for a piece of land at St Aloysius College premises, which he claimed belonged to him. The Court also termed the affidavit filed by Mr Michael Saldanha, retired High Court Judge in support of the case as just a “piece of paper”. With this, it is now doubly established that St Aloysius College is the legal owner of the property. Senior advocate M P Noronha had argued the case for St Aloysius College, with convincing arguments supported by judgements of higher courts and also producing before the Court all original documents proving the College as the legal owner of the property and that the claim of John Baptist Lewis was frivolous.

 

John Baptist house demolition case


In her 28-page order passed on Tuesday, the Principal Civil Judge, Mangalore Smt. Tattanda Damayanti Somayya dismissed the claim by John Baptist Lewis that he was the adopted son of Alice Lydia D’Souza, the original owner of the property and hence the legal heir of the property. The judge also dismissed the claim by Mr Lewis that he resided in the suit schedule premises from the last four decades.

It has to be noted here that Alice Lydia D’Souza had bequeathed this property through a registered Will in 1986 to Karnataka Jesuit Education Society, through St Aloysius College. However, she had also said in her will that her nephew Errol Flinn Gonsalves may be allowed to stay in the house situated in the property. The College had subsequently allowed Mr Gonsalves to reside in the same house. But, upon Mr Gonsalves’ death in July 2013, one Mr John Baptist Lewis, posing as adopted son of Alice Lydia D’Souza began claiming legal ownership. He even dared to approach the court without possessing a single valid document to claim ownership to the property. The Court has taken a very serious cognizance of his fraudulent misdemeanour and squashed all his applications. The court even said that Mr Lewis had “no right to question the validity of the Will,” as he “is not a legal heir of Alice D’Souza”.

Before the Court two ration cards of John Baptist Lewis were produced. The Court held that one of  the ration cards produced by John Baptist Lewis discloses that he was resident of C/o No. 15/26, Jayashree Nivas, Pathrao Lane, Karangalpady, Mangalore and that does not disclose the address of the suit property. Moreover, the BPL ration card of John Baptist Lewis discloses that he was the resident of Door no. 1-2-77, Dharmatota, Pavoor, Boliyar Village. So also the marriage certificate of John Baptist Lewis discloses that he was married on 13-5-1990, and is shown to be the resident of Fajir. And this itself goes on to show that he was not residing in the suit property.

The Court also held that in view of the Will executed by Alice Lydia D’Souza in favour of Karnataka Jesuit Education Society (KJES), its name is entered in the RTC extract. Even the revenue Inspector of City Corporation entered the name of KJES, which only means that by holding an enquiry, the name of KJES was entered in the revenue records. KJES “is in actual possession of the suit property,” the Court said.

Saldanha’s affidavit ‘just a piece of paper’
The Court has also taken serious objections to untoward affidavits filed by Mr M F Saldanha, retired judge of the High Court. In a scathing remark, the Court said that his affidavit was “just a piece of paper”. The order further states: “In this case Hon’ble Justice Mr Michael F. Saldanha has filed his own affidavit in support of the case of the plaintiff. The averments of the affidavit are nothing but the written arguments on behalf of the plaintiff and a counter blast against the Advocate appearing for defendant No. 1.” The court also added that his affidavit in the form of arguments cannot be accepted by the Court. “The said affidavit is just a piece of paper,” the court added.

Mr Saldanha in his affidavit had narrated as if he had witnessed the incident on 26-6-2014 and contended that Advocate Noronha, Fr Denzil Lobo, Fr Almeida, Fr Cyril and John D’Silva physically pulled out John Baptist Lewis, assaulted him etc. However, the Court held that Mr M F Saldanha “was not at all present at the relevant time when the alleged incident took place. Fr Praveen Hrudayaraj had sworn affidavit stating that Mr M. F. Saldanha has been coming for mass to St Joseph Boys’ High School Chapel Bangalore and he offered special masses from 23-6-2014 to 28-6-2014 to pray for the soul of his departed wife. And the priest himself read out his name and the name of his wife before celebrating the mass throughout the week.”

Concluding that John Baptist Lewis was not in possession and that there was no case of dispossession as claimed by Mr Lewis, the Court held that St Aloysius College had produced “convincing documents regarding the possession of the premises”, while Mr John Baptist Lewis had “failed to produce necessary documents to show that he was in possession of suit schedule premises.”

College elated
The administration of St Aloysius College was truly elated with the order passed by the City Civil Court. “Indeed the Court has given us justice. There was so much of negative propaganda against us, as though we were land grabbers. We were only trying to claim what legally belonged to us for the sake of scores of children. The judgement vindicates our claim on the property bequeathed to us by Late Alice Lydia D’Souza,” said Fr Swebert D’Silva SJ, Principal of the College.


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