Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Law of the Land

Nearly seven years ago we decided to build our house on a plot of land in Bangalore that we had purchased from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Co-op. We began by constructing a perimeter wall around the plot. A week after it had been built it was knocked down overnight. We learned that someone had claimed a part of the land as his and objected to our construction. As we had all the legal papers so we decided to go to court. That turned out to be a bad decision. The defendant had the backing of a local politician and got a ruling in his favor without producing any proof of ownership.

My mom didn't lose hope and moved to the higher court. She attended the court proceedings religiously. I accompanied her on a few visits when I was there and was repulsed on each visit. Sometimes the defendant's lawyer wouldn't show up, dragging the case on so we would get frustrated and give up. Our lawyer was no angel himself as it was in his interests to keep prolonging the case too. As the case drew to a judgment, we were hit by another curve ball. The defendant had 'sold' our land to another developer and he was no longer liable in the legal proceedings!

I found another lawyer who had represented my high school buddy's folks in another commercial dispute. We decided to switch to him as he came highly recommended. His advice to us was to settle the case out of court as it could be dragged on for a much longer time. The compromise involved splitting the land between us and the new developer, and with the developer building the boundary wall around the new areas in lieu of the one torn down. Whoever coined - 'Good fences make good neighbors' surely had our situation in mind.

The settlement was reached on Sunday and a heavy weight has been lifted off our chests. We can breathe easy again.

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