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|July 24, 2000||
Veteran actor wins court case
Legendary character actor P Jairaj, all of 91 years old, wanted only one thing -- the chance to live out the evening of his life in some peace.
It took Judge Achilya of the Bombay sessions court to grant him that wish, through his final ruling on Monday that asks Jairaj's son Dilip Raj and his family to vacate his father's flat within three days.
Henceforth, the son can, if he is so inclined, visit his father for one hour, from 5 pm to 6 pm every day -- but that is it. The rest of the time, Jairaj gets to enjoy the peace and contentment of his home.
Jairaj, a veteran of the silent film era, had earlier found himself in the kind of melodramatic situation that would have seemed exaggerated even in a seven-handkerchief Bollywood weepie. Dilip Raj -- eldest of his brood of three daughters and two sons -- walked into his flat with his family, says Jairaj, and confined his father to one room.
Jairaj says he was not even allowed to use the phone, much less receive visitors or leave the house for any reason whatsoever.
Dilip Raj, himself all of 60 years old, has not done a stroke of work in his life, claims his father. At various times, thanks mainly to the persuasions of his wife, Jairaj sold his properties in and around Bombay to finance his son's various 'business ventures.'
Matters came to a head some 15 years ago when Dilip Raj, frustrated by his father's refusal to finance his latest 'scheme,' allegedly threatened to beat him with a hockey stick. Jairaj, in turn, sought help from friends and managed to oust Dilip Raj from his flat. It was an expensive ouster -- to get his son out of his hair, Jairaj had to buy him a flat and provide his son a certain sum of money every month for expenses.
Jairaj's wife died, after a prolonged bout with cancer, last year. And that proved to be the flashpoint, with Dilip Raj, his wife and family returning to occupy Jairaj's flat at Pali Hill in northwest Bombay.
Came the day when Jairaj got an intimation from the housing society indicating that his son had claimed title to the flat. It was then that Jairaj realised his son had got his doting mother to write a will leaving everything to him.
Like the proverbial straw, this act broke the back of the long-suffering Jairaj's patience. "How," he demanded, "can my son claim my property while I am still alive?" And with that thought, he moved the courts.
As part of his defence, Dilip Raj put it that the flat was in fact being claimed by his sisters -- a claim his sisters rubbish. They point out that while they have been living in their father's flat for the last two months, their brother has not even offered them so much as a meal. "We cook for ourselves or order food from outside," they point out.
Recalls Jairaj's youngest daughter, Geeta, while explaining how she and her sister had left their husbands and in-laws, in Calcutta and Delhi respectively, and were now living with their father: "I got a call from my brother that Papa was remembering me, so I rang him up. Papa started crying on the phone and said, 'Geetu, I need you, please come soon.' So I took the next flight and came to Bombay. I found him in a very pitiable condition -- his cretinin level had gone very high, his face and feet were swollen and he was not wearing proper clothes. His room was stinking because he had not been bathed. I called his doctor, he started treatment for my father, then I had to go and buy him some clothes. I wanted to hire a nurse, but I was not allowed to. For two months, I was harassed, there was so much hostility in the house. I would not get proper meals, nobody would talk to me and I was accused of interfering.
"But I could not stand by and see my father suffering. One night, father told me go to the lawyer and complain to the police. Papa said, I am giving you the power of attorney, go and file a case against these people because I don't want them in my house. I did what my father told me.
"My sister came down from Delhi and so did my younger brother from America, but he had to go back.
"I have been here for two months now, leaving my family behind. I only came to visit my father, but seeing the situation here, I decided to stay back as long as Papa needs me. My brother has been suggesting that I am interested in the property, but that is not true. I could not care less about the property and the money. I am only here to be with my father, since he is really suffering."
Thanks to the courts, the major part of Jairaj's suffering is now over.
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