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Delhi High Court asks Judge to assess value of Salman Rushdie’s ancestral house in Delhi

The Delhi High court has asked a single judge for finding out the value of ancestral property of writer Salman Rushdie situated on Flagstaff Road in Civil Lines which is about 5,373 square yards

A High court division bench comprising of Justice Vibhu Bhakru and Justice Amit Mahajan while setting aside a December 24, 2019 order which had pegged the property’s value at ₹130 crore gave the directions for the same.

The bench said that it has decided to set aside the impugned order and remand the matter to the single judge to determine the value of the suit property afresh in terms of the directions issued by the Supreme Court.

The bench said in the judgment delivered that it wants to direct the registrar to place the matter before the concerned single judge on December 11, 2023 and request the single judge to conclude the proceedings as expeditiously as possible/

In the year 1970,the father of the writer Salman Rushdie named Anis Ahmed Rushdie, agreed to sell the house for ₹3.75 lakh in 1970 to Congress leader Bhiku Ram.

The Congress leader had paid Rs50,000 as earnest amount and assured the pay the rest later. The deal, however, did not go through as the two families got into a legal dispute accusing each other of not respecting the terms of the agreement.

In 1977, Bhikhu Ram moved a Delhi court seeking its intervention to enforce the agreement. A court in 1983 ruled in favour of the Congress leader, directing him to pay the balance of ₹3.25 lakh at the time of executing the sale deed.

The Delhi Court was approached by Rushdie against the order stating that Jains could not ask for the transfer of the bungalow.

The High court directed the Rushdie’s to return ₹50,000 earnest money with 12% annual interest.

The congress leader’s son— Narender Kumar Jain and Arvind Kumar Jain approached the Supreme Court.

In December 3, 2012, the Apex Court directed for executing the sale deed in the Bhikhu Ram’s favour at the market price of the property.

The Top Court also remitted the matter back to the high court while directing the single judge to correctly assess the market value of the suit property.

The single judge assessed that the market value of the property as on December 3, 2012, was ₹130 crore but the other party(The Jains) moved division bench of the High court, challenging the single judge’s order after the Rushdie’s party said they had a prospective buyer who was ready to purchase the house at that price.

The single judge then directed that if the Rushdies were unable to sell the property for a minimum of ₹130 crore within 60 days from then, the Jains would be entitled to purchase the property for ₹75 crore which was the circle rate prevailing on December 4, 2012.

The Jains however contended that single judge’s order exceeded the scope of remand which was limited to determining the market value of the property as on December 3, 2012.

The division bench said the approach of putting in place two separate sale considerations for the property, one determined at ₹130 crore with further recourse to perform the agreement at ₹75 crore if the Jains did not pay the amount and the Rushdies could not secure the same by further sale, is wholly alien to the scope of determination of the market value of the suit property as on December 3, 2012.

Clearly, there cannot be two market values of the same property for specific performance of the agreement to sell, it said.

The court said that it is well settled that the price agreeable by a willing buyer and a willing seller would, in normal circumstances, be accepted as the value of a property.

The court said that it would certainly be open for them to take into consideration such value if evidence to the said effect was available with the court.

The Court however added that it would be erroneous to direct actual sale of the property to determine its value.

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