An octogenarian, who claims to own land estimated to be worth Rs 2,000 crore adjoining the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Sahar, has moved the Bombay High Court challenging a showcause notice issued by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
The AAI initiated action to evict Edward Machado (82) from the seven acres he claims to possess.
Machado, an agriculturist, stated in his petition that he was the owner of 28.52 acres in Marol and Bapnala villages near Sahar, which belonged to his family since 1944. However, he stated he was dispossessed of 18.52 acres by the AAI in 2009. In his petition, he said he continues to own 10 acres and has crops standing on 6-7 acres of the agricultural land near Hotel Leela.
On January 3, the AAI, represented in court by Additional Solicitor General D J Khambata and senior counsel M P Rao, had issued a notice to Machado stating he was in unauthorised occupation of the land and flouted Section 28 of the AAI Act, 1994, as amended in 2003. Under the amended provision, Machado could be termed a trespasser, according to the AAI. “The said premises (seven acres) are required for the development of the international airport at Mumbai, which is substantially suffering on account of such illegal occupation of public property,” the AAI’s notice stated.
The eviction authority of the AAI had asked Machado to reply to the notice by January 16 and appear before it for a hearing on January 18. Machado, represented by senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, contended that the notice issued by the AAI is “unreasonable, capricious and in breach of the petitioner’s fundamental rights”.
Machado said he had filed a police complaint in December 1, 2004, after the AAI allegedly tried to dispossess him of his property on November 18, 2004. He submitted that owing to alleged police inaction, he moved the City Civil Court in May 2011 that observed that prima facie Machado was in possession of the land and restrained the AAI from evicting him.
Machado has claimed to be the owner of the property through adverse possession — a defence that can be raised in court by a person in occupation of an immoveable property against its real owner, and if proved, the occupant may be declared as its legal owner. He questioned the AAI’s jurisdiction to issue such a notice when his suit filed to ascertain the ownership of the land is