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30 Years on, Supreme Court Declares Woman Litigant as 'Fictitious' in Bengaluru Land Dispute

The bizarre tale, spanning over last three decades, ended recently when a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur drew the curtains on the protracted trial over a piece of contentious land in Bengaluru's Kowdenahalli area.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:March 19, 2018, 8:36 AM IST
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30 Years on, Supreme Court  Declares Woman Litigant as 'Fictitious' in Bengaluru Land Dispute
A file photo of the Supreme Court. (PTI)

New Delhi: Almost 30 years on, an education society from Karnataka has won a case after the Supreme Court declared that the woman fighting against them all this while was a "fictitious person".

The bizarre tale, spanning over last three decades, ended recently when a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur drew the curtains on the protracted trial over a piece of contentious land in Bengaluru's Kowdenahalli area.

The bench noted that a smokescreen was created by making one 'Lakshmi' as a petitioner in the case, which had prompted the Karnataka High Court to rule against St Anne's Education Society in a case filed in her name.

'Lakshmi' never showed up at any hearing before the High Court or in the Supreme Court and always acted through a power of attorney in the name of one B Sriramulu.

Between 1989 and 1997, her case before the High Court and a civil court was premised on the fact that the land could not have been assigned to the education society since it was a tank bed area. She also won her case to retain possession of the land on the ground that it was an 'Inam' land and thus she held some rights over it even after the Land Revenue Act came in force.

In Lakshmi's matter, St Anne's Education Society's appeal in the Supreme Court was in fact dismissed in 2006, but it convinced the court to restore the case because no other authority or court had so far adjudicated whether Lakshmi is a real person or not.

Eleven years on, the case was finally taken up recently when the bench noted that despite service of notices upon them, neither 'Lakshmi' nor her attorney Sriramulu has shown up in all these years.

"When Lakshmi filed the suit, she was about 60 years of age in 1989. In the normal course, Lakshmi would now be about 97 years of age. We have no idea whether she is still alive. Prima facie, upon going through the records of the case and after hearing learned counsel for the parties, it does appear to us that Lakshmi was a fictitious person," said the court.

It took note of the fact that in 2009, the local police had also tried to trace 'Lakshmi' in a contempt of court case but failed to do so.

The bench added that it also has no idea whether her attorney Sriramulu, who should be 87 now, is alive or not since no one has put in appearance on their behalf.

"Under the circumstances, since it appears that the civil suit filed by Lakshmi being a non-existent person was based on a complete fraud, the decree granted in her favour is set aside," ruled the court.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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