Can Pagdi tenants residing prior to 1955 be called trespassers?
I am residing in Khar, Mumbai with my family in a house of pagdi system. My grandfather used to live here with his cousins and family even prior ro 1950. My father was born in 1954, since then he is residing here with them. We had good relations with the landlords then but as soon as the landlord got to know that my grandfather's cousin, in whose name the rent receipts were recorded has left to stay elsewhere, he filed a suit on us. My grandfather by that time had shifted to Dahisar with my uncle. Now we 4 of us (My father, my mother, my elder sister and me) reside here. I am 22 years old, pursuing Final CA. Our landlord has filed a suit on us claiming us to be the trespassers and not lawful tenants. He has cut our water connection completely since 2001. The building that we stay in is extremely old(more than 70 years old), its in a very dangerous state and anytime the huge slabs may collapse. We stay on the ground floor and this being the lowest lying area gets flooded in a 10 to 15 minute heavy rain.
After 13 years of litigation the court passed the order saying we could get water connection but on our own money, which would eventually cost around 2 to 3 lakhs. And as we are lower middle class people, we do not have so much money to spend. My father works in a private company for Rs. 20,000/- even after the retirement age and also after heart attacks and bypass surgery.
Now a month back the court gave an order to increase the rent compensation to Rs. 15,000/- per month to be paid every month till the final desicion about the tenancy rights is given. We have to pay this amount retrospectively from October 2014. We are financially very weak to afford such huge sums and also pay for lawyers, our education, marriage, medication, etc.
We are planning to writ to high court for reduction in rent. Currently we have been paying Rs. 160/- p.m. since years as we are under pagdi system.
The landlords have harassed us in every possible way. They fight verbally on issues as petty as cleaning of building lobby and thus keep littering just outside our main door. Because of him (the landlord) every other landlord in our society have gone for such legal route in order to acquire houses for free in Mumbai Suburban area.
I, and my sister since childhood have never seen water in our houses. Our good neighbors help us take water from their homes twice a week for 1 hour each. We have never lived peacefully here, we cannot own a vehicle because he had torn the seats and punctured our scooter years back, stolen our bicycles, stolen our vehicle locks, puts acid in our locks when we go out, cuts our TV connection wires from outside, etc.
This is a very tough phase for me and my family. Paying such a huge sum as rent is not possible for us. Also paying a lawyer is not that easy. We have no where to go once we leave from here. We don't want his malefic intentions to win. We have struggled like this for more than 25 years, I do not want to lose against him. I know our case is strong, but we do not know any good lawyer who can get things in our favor.
I request you learned lawyers to please guide me on this very issue very soon. Why are pagdi tenants made to live like slaves? We have paid the pagdi amount as per the then prevailing market rates. Why is the Rent Control Act not able to provide justice to tenants.