Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thrice-married man legally bars son from sharing home

Mumbai: A 69-year-old businessman, once widowed, twice divorced and not shy of marrying a fourth time, dragged his married son to court to have him thrown out of the house they share. The family drama played out at the city civil court. The father, Shabbir Motiwala, who runs a hardware business, claimed his son was “harassing” him and had made his life “miserable” since 2009.
The “stunned” son, 45-year-old Ammar, fought back saying his father had filed a “false and frivolous suit with an ulterior motive to marry a fourth time and exclusively enjoy the property”. The property—two flats merged into one—is spread over a spacious 1,200 sq ft in Mazgaon’s Jasmine building.
The city civil court last week favoured the father and restrained the son, his wife Umaima and their 17-year-old son from entering the flat till the matter remained pending. The father said he was the sole owner of the property. The son denied it saying it is actually an “ancestral house since it belonged to his paternal grandfather”. It could be years before the suit is finally disposed of.
Restraining entry at the initial stage is “rather drastic and rare”, said lawyers. But judge R R Deshmukh in his order observed that Motiwala senior had made out a prima facie case of being put to “irreparable loss” if his application were to get dismissed. He also laid emphasis on the father’s contentions made through his counsel Nusrat Shah that Ammar was “harassing him to have the flat transferred to his name” and that “strained relations had taken a toll on his health and made his life miserable”. Motiwala, whose last divorce came about in 2007, said he suffered two heart attacks and underwent a bypass surgery last year due to the stress caused by his son. The father’s friend, Mohammedi Khambhati, who resides in Colaba but has ashop next to his at Lohar Chawl, supported the complaints against Ammar. The court said Ammar had not filed a rebuttal against Khambati’s affidavit.
But Ammar and his lawyer Neel Helekar denied everything the father said. “The relationship is not strained. He has only undergone an angioplasty. Ammar had taken him to the hospital and was there for his father. The Lohar Chawl shop is a rented one.” Helekar also argued that the court could not completely bar entry into the house at an interim stage overnight, but the judge relied on judgments cited by Shah to say he could.
Ammar is Motiwala’s son from his first wife who he divorced in the late ’70s before marrying again about three years later. The first wife had given Motiwala two sons, Ammar, and Khozema who continues to live in a separate flat in the same building with his family and is a partner with his father in the hardware business. Motiwala had removed Ammar from the partnership in 2007 and doesn’t want him to step inside the shop either. Ammar said he had worked at the shop for over 10 years and “dreamed that a day like this would come”. The second marriage gave Motiwala a daughter who he gave to his sister to look after when he married the third time after the second wife died in 1987. The third wife, a doctor, didn’t bear any children .
Ammar's reply in court denied an amicable third spilt and said the marriage ended when she declined to transfer her property to Motiwala. Attempts to reconcile after their mutual consent divorce under the Muslim personal law failed and his son said he (Motiwala) expressed a wish to marry again as he was lonely. Motiwala’s lawyer denied he wanted his son removed because he wanted to marry.

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