KAMPALA: Sudhir Ruparelia, a city property mogul has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga over the move by Parliament to investigate how he acquired a property in the city even when the High Court ruled that he genuinely acquired it.
Parliament, through the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase), is investigating suspected fraud syndicate in acquisition of 460 Departed Asians Properties.
Officials from the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board have listed Plot 24 on Kampala Road, which belongs to Meera Investments Limited, as part of the properties suspected to have been wrongly acquired.
But Mr Ruparelia, in a letter dated 14th August 2019 to the Speaker of Parliament, wondered how COSASE is inquiring into ownership of the property that decided upon by the High Court in 2012.
He explained that they bought the property in 1995 and when the Custodian Board contested their move, they went to the High Court and the Judge ruled in their favour. He said the Custodian board at the time did not appeal the court decision but wonders why they continue to list the property under those illegally acquired.
“Rt. Hon Speaker, in 2012, the Custodian Board claimed that former owner did not return to Uganda to manage the property and therefore the property belongs to Custodian Board and was by the state of their pen under their management. Having bought the property and owned it since 1995 we went to High court for Judicial Review under LD CR 16 of 2012 to challenge the Custodian Board’s claim,” Mr Ruparelia said.
“High Court listened to us and also listened to Custodian Board (represented by Attorney General ) and made a decision on 2011 December , 2012 in our favour. Custodian Board did not appeal. COSASE is now inquiring into a matter and ownership decided upon by the High Court in 2012,” he said.
“We are seeking clarification and guidance from you whether Parliament can inquire into a matter where decision of Court has been made or where a matter is in Court . Then whenever matters in court come to an end , parties can come to Parliament for another decision We shall be grateful for our guidance.”
On December 20, 2012, Justice Joseph Murangira at the High Court at Kampala Land Division declared Sudhir under his Meera Investment Limited as the rightful owner of the land.
Prior, DAPCB had taken a decision that Sudhir was not the owner of Plot 24 Kampala Road thus stopping him from developing the land in question.
In his ruling, Justice Murangira said Sudhir/Meera Investment was in possession of the property since 1994 when he purchased it until it was subjected to the repossession process of properties that were expropriated when Asians were expelled from Uganda in 1972.
“Meera Investment approached the former owners (Rameshchandra Bhowan Kataria and the late Kershavlal Premchard Shah) before they were granted a certificate of repossession and they agreed to sell their estate and interest that is the property. Indeed they sold and transferred to Meera,” the Judge said.
He further said DAPCB expressly recognized Meera Investment’s intention to purchase the property from the former owners before repossession.
“This is reflected in the respondent’s letter dated January 5, 1995 (repossession certificate is dated March 31, 1995) signed by Mr Sam S. Male who has now made a u-turn in the respondent’s affidavit in reply.”
“The above-stated facts were not challenged by the respondents in his affidavit in reply to the application. The facts, therefore, are taken to have been admitted by the respondents.”