Aditya Pancholi and his family thrown out of their bungalow

Actor Aditya Pancholi, his wife Zarina Wahab and the couple’s son Sooraj who recently debuted in Salman Khan’s production ‘Hero’, may have to leave their home in which the family has been staying for decades. 

The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of Aditya Pancholi and his family to retain the tenancy rights over their bungalow which was rented in 1960 at the rate of Rs 150 per month. The Court has given the actor time till November 5 to challenge the order. The family is likely to approach the Supreme Court in the matter, but if they lose, then they must evict the bungalow.

The bungalow in question is located near the ISKCON Temple in Juhu. According to reports, the property is owned by Hate family who initiated proceedings against the actor’s family in 1978 for not paying the rent for eight months i.e. from February to October 1977. The actor represented by his legal team Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co. conveyed that he did not receive any letter/notice from Tarabai Hate, the landlady to clear the outstanding rent. However, the landlady claimed that it was sent to Aditya’s father Rajan Pancholi.  

During the three decades, the Pancholis have been fighting a legal battle to remain in the bungalow appealing in three different courts, but each of the courts has turned down the contentions raised on the family’s behalf.

The bungalow’s owner had filed a suit under the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947 in the Small Causes Court in July 1977, seeking the Pancholis' eviction to which the actor’s family responded a year later. An oral arrangement had been arrived at with the Hates, which required the Pancholis to pay Rs 600 towards obtaining a new water connection, and the amount would be deducted from the rent owed. The Pancholis also claimed to have offered to pay rent on several occasions, which the landlady refused because of ‘ulterior motives’.

Eleven years later, the family amended their response and added this detail in support of their case that they "never received" the October 1977 notice seeking arrears. They also produced two letters by Rajan to Tarabai, written in October and December 1977. The Pancholis claimed that the first letter was written before Tarabai sent the notice, and that she had denied their attempts at paying rent deliberately. This letter also stated that "arrears of rent would be remitted by money orders shortly."

The second message was composed in response to a letter by Tarabai. Both sides disputed the authenticity of the signatures on these three documents: Rajan denied having signed Tarabai's letter of October 1977 and the landlady rejected the claim that she had signed either of the letters sent by Rajan the same year.

Tarabai, represented by advocates Girish Godbole and Maganlal Bhandari in HC, told the court that her letter was hand-delivered to Pancholi, which claim the court accepted. The Small Causes Court sought help of a government handwriting expert; his findings went against the Pancholis on both counts. The actor's family then sought to have an expert of their choice examine the letters, which the court allowed. The specialist indicated his inability to weigh in on either of the signatures.

The court found that the Pancholis not having deposited money or paid the landlord by any other means was detrimental to their case. "At least during the interim period [between 1977 when the notice was sent and 1979, when Rajan responded] Rajan Pancholi had remitted the arrears of rent, something could have been said with regards to the two letters cited by him. Besides, the two letters were not even referred to in the reply filed by Rajan Pancholi (in 1979). All this, makes it clear that attempt on the part of Pancholis to introduce the two letters in the evidence was unsuccessful," the judge observed.