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Debate over ownership dispute on Asian property in contempt of court order

Meera Investments Managing Director, Dr Sudhir Ruparelia (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA. The debate in regard to the conflicting ownership of properties formerly for the expelled Asian traders during the Amin regime is in defiance of a court order.

In 2012, the High Court Land Division ordered the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board to stop enforcement of its decisions of June 6, 2012 against Meera Investments.

Justice Joseph Murangira quashed the decision of the Board that had stopped Meera Investments from developing the land comprised in Freehold Register volume 1082 Folio 1 plot 24 Kampala Road was made and created without jurisdiction, irregularly and illegally rendering it as a nullity.

The order was issued in regard to a dispute over land comprised on plot 24 on Kampala Road.

“An order of prohibition against the respondent (Departed Asians Property Custodian Board) to stop enforcement of the above decisions is granted to the applicant (Meera Investments). The respondent is accordingly prohibited from enforcing its decisions as against the applicant,” the judge ruled.

The order, sources privy to the matter say was never appealed and or over turned by court.

The judge noted that the evidence on record by the applicant which was not challenged by the respondent is to the effect has been in physical possession of the suit property with the knowledge of the respondent since 1994 to date.

“From that year to June, 2012 the time the respondent expressed interest in part of the suit land is over 18years . More still the applicant in 1995 with the knowledge of the respondent as shown in the unchallenged evidence by the respondent, the applicant purchased the suit property from the original owners,” justice Murangira ruled.

“The respondent has never at any time challenged the ownership of the suit land by the applicant. The respondent’s claims now over the suit land must have been hatched and made in bad faith by its officials in order to dispossess the applicant off the suit land, “ he added.

Meera Investments through its lawyers of Nangwala, Rezida & Co. Advocates filed an application seeking for orders that the decision of the respondent to the effect that the applicant is not the owner of land at plot 24 Kampala Road and that they should stop developing the said land were made and created without jurisdiction, irregularly, unlawfully and illegally and therefore a nullity among others.

In a sworn affidavit to support its case, its Managing Director, Dr Sudhir Ruparelia stated that the respondents had no jurisdiction whatsoever when it took the decisions referred to above aimed at depriving the applicant of its property on plot 24 Kampala Road  which in any event were time barred.

Meera Investments contends that it first purchased the property in November, 1994 from Greenland Bank and has been in its possession to date.

“It was later transpired in the same year (1994) that the property was subject to the repossession process of properties that were expropriated when Asians were expelled from Uganda in 1972 and indeed by virtue of a certificate of repossession NO.2391 dated 31st March, 1995 the property was returned to the former owners,” reads an excerpt from the court documents.

Court documents indicate that the former owners are Rameshchandra Bhowan Kataria and Kershavlal Premchard Shah (deceased) who agreed to sell the said land to the applicants.

It is also stated that the respondent expressly recognizes the applicant’s intention to purchase the property from the former owners before repossession and it was reflected in their letter dated 5th January, 1995 signed by Mr Sam Male although he made a U-turn in the respondent’s affidavit in reply.

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