Kerala HC paves way for octogenarian's dream to live in own home

"It is true that in certain cases, the law will be too strict; but the Court has to look into the ground reality in certain circumstances and decide the matter accordingly. Sometimes the law is an 'ass' as observed by Charles Dickens in 'Oliver Twist'.
Kerala High Court
Kerala High Court

Kochi | The Kerala High Court has paved the way for an 85-year-old woman, living in an orphanage after her husband and son's death, to realise her dream of living in her own home by directing the local authorities to demarcate 10 cents of her waterlogged property that she can reclaim for building a house.

The Agricultural Officer had not permitted reclamation of land by the woman from her property, measuring 81 cents on the ground that it would affect the environmental system of the area.

Justice P V Kunhikrishnan, however, directed the authorities concerned to "take this as an exceptional case" and earmark the portion of the land which can be reclaimed with less chance of adversely affecting the ecological condition of the area.

"It is true that in certain cases, the law will be too strict; but the Court has to look into the ground reality in certain circumstances and decide the matter accordingly. Sometimes the law is an 'ass' as observed by Charles Dickens in 'Oliver Twist'. In such a situation, the constitutional court should step in.

"This is a fit case in which the constitutional court and the respondents (authorities) should come forward to see that the dream of this 85-year-old lady is fulfilled and to tell the whole world that the petitioner (woman) is not an orphan and the court and every citizen of this country is behind her," Justice Kunhikrishnan said in his order of January 30.

The court directed the authorities to find at least 10 cents of land out of the 81 cents owned by the woman for the purpose of constructing a residential house and allow her to reclaim that part of the property.

"This should be done within 3 weeks because every day is important to this octogenarian who is now 85-years-old," the court said.

"Balance of ecological conditions is a need for the citizen and not for the law," it added.

The court also said that this case need not be treated as a precedent.

The woman, in her plea, had stated that after her husband and only son's death, she was abandoned by her relatives and was residing in an orphanage at Kakkanad here.

She had said that some well wishers in her locality are ready to construct a small house for her if she can provide the land.

The 81 cents of land she owned was waterlogged, and the Agricultural Officer was denying permission to reclaim some portion of it citing environmental concerns, she had said in her plea.

The court, while granting her the relief, said it cannot ignore the ground reality nor reject her plea by stating that the reclamation of the property will adversely affect the ecological condition and the cultivation in the adjoining paddy land.

"An 85-year-old lady is coming before this Court to get shelter. Caring for all old people is perhaps the greatest responsibility of all of us. They are the people who walked before us.

"We should respect their last ambitions in a pragmatic manner. The senior citizens who walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy. Therefore, this peculiar case is to be dealt with from a separate angle," the court said.

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