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Pilloo impersonates Silloo

The 74-year-old impersonated a senior lawyer’s 88-year-old mother, because her brother asked her to do so. At the heart of the drama is 107 acres of prime plot in Thane worth Rs 875 crore as per the Ready Reckoner rate

It seemed like yet another case in Bombay High Court. A senior citizen had approached HC in December 2015 seeking help to protect her land parcel spread over 100-odd acres in Thane. Silloo Mistri’s petition against Thane police claimed that cops were not initiating action against those who had forcibly taken over her plot. Drama began in the very first hearing on January 6, 2016, when Jehangir Mistri, a senior counsel, appeared in court and pointed out that his mother’s identity had been forged to file the case. Since then the case has seen several twists. It has now come to a point where Silloo, who has filed the case, has admitted that she is an impostor and her real name is Pilloo.

It all started with a criminal petition being filed in HC on December 17, 2015. The case came up before the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice VL Achliya on January 6. When the hearing began, Jehangir, who also practices in HC as a senior counsel, pointed out that his mother’s name had been used to file the petition against Thane cops.

Not my mother
Specialising in tax matters, Jehangir Mistri got to know about the petition filed in his mother’s name through his mother’s lawyers. He told the court that his mother had not given authority to anyone to file such a petition.

The division bench asked Advocate HS Venegaonkar and Sailesh Thakkar, who were representing Silloo in the petition to respond, to which they said that the senior citizen was outside the court. One of the advocates was sent out to bring Silloo into the courtroom but she was nowhere to be found. The advocate told the court that one of the clerks had verified Silloo’s identity before filing the petition. Not wanting to jump to any conclusion, the division bench decided to hear the matter the next day and instructed the lawyers to ensure that Silloo was personally present on January 7.

Court convinced about impostor
In the next hearing, drama intensified. While Silloo did not make it to court, her lawyers pointed out that they had been approached by her brother Kersi Guard to represent her in the matter. The clerk who had verified her identity before filing the petition too told the court that the senior citizen had produced her PAN card. Advocate Venegaonkar showed the court some CCTv images of Silloo signing documents in a government office. Senior counsel Jehangir too produced his mother’s PAN card and election card.

“The PAN Card and Election Card of Mrs Silloo Danjishaw Mistri, mother of Mr Jehangir B Mistri and the photographs produced by Mr Venegaonkar showing the petitioner signing some papers are apparently of different persons,” said the division bench. By now the court was convinced that somebody had impersonated Jehangir’s mother Silloo Mistri. The court took serious view of the matter and ordered that impostor, who had filed the petition, must remain present in the next hearing failing which action would be initiated against her. The bench also instructed the officers in-charge of security at HC to preserve and produce the footage from January 6 when the lady impersonating Silloo had apparently come to the court. The bench also asked the real Silloo to intervene in the case.

Last warning
On January 12, when the case came up for hearing again, the impostor and her brother Kersi Guard finally came to court. The lady told the court with conviction that she was indeed Silloo Mistri and even gave her residential address and phone number. Her brother Kersi Guard too gave his details. This time the division bench did not pass any strictures and slated the matter for January 14 after instructing the lady and her brother to appear again. On January 14, while Kersi appeared, his sister did not turn up. “Notably, despite undertaking given to this Court on 12th January 2016, the Petitioner (lady claiming to be Silloo Mistri) is not present in the Court. Mr Kersi Guard who claims to be the brother of the Petitioner is present. He states that the Petitioner is not keeping well. By way of indulgence, as a last chance we are deferring the hearing on this writ petition to 21st January 2016,” the bench ordered.

Confession
On January 21, when the case came up for hearing, there was a major twist in the tale. The lady who had filed the petition in the name of Silloo Mistri appeared with a new lawyer. Advocate RA Shaikh, appearing on her behalf told the court that she was not Silloo Mistri but Pilloo Pervez Mehta. “Ms Pilloo Pervez Mehta states that she has been used and forced to file this petition by her real brother by name Kersi Guard,” HC division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice SC Gupte noted.

Brother blames politician
When the bench inquired with Kersi Guard, he passed the buck on to a former Member of Legislative Assembly from Mira Bhayander, Gilbert Mendonca and one Ashok Hire. The brother-sister duo told the court that their lives were in danger and that they were coerced into filing the petition in the name of Silloo Mistri.

The division bench ordered that police must assess the threat to the lives of Pilloo and her brother and if required give them police protection. The court also ordered that if required, even Silloo Mistri should be given protection by the police, if required.

It’s all about money
Now that Pilloo has stopped claiming to be Silloo, Thane police have unravelled the mystery behind the drama. According to Thane cops, Silloo Mistri owned 107 acres of land on Ghodbunder Road, Thane. The current value of the plot as per the Ready Reckoner rates is around Rs 875 crore. She sold the land parcel in June 1982 to Samartha Development Corporation.

Sometime in 2014, a few land grabbers claiming to have bought the land parcel from Silloo, tried getting the land records amended in their name. Initially, they were able to get some of the land records changed. However, one of the government officials suspected something amiss and reported the case to Thane Nagar police station.

In November 2015, Thane Nagar police registered an FIR of fraud, forgery and cheating against Gilbert Mendonca (former Mira Bhayander MLA), AR Gaikwad, a record keeper in a government office and Manoj Sawant, an agent by profession.

Ganesh Kekane, the investigating officer attached to Thane Nagar police told TGS that Mendonca along with others allegedly prepared forged documents of the land owned by Silloo and submitted them in Tehsildar’s office to amend the land ownership records. After the FIR was registered, Sawant was arrested, Gaikwad obtained anticipatory bail and Mendonca was granted interim relief from arrest by Bombay High Court. Police is still investigating the case.

In the meanwhile, now that the impostor drama has unravelled in HC, police is leaving no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the mystery. Cops believe that using Pilloo as Silloo was nothing but a ploy on the part of land grabbers. “The petition in HC was filed with the intention of ousting those who had legally bought the land from the real Silloo. The impostor in her petition wanted police to file an FIR and throw out those who had bought the land parcel from the real Silloo. The ploy however seems to have failed now that the impostor has come out in the open,” said a senior police official from Thane. The cops are likely to submit a report to HC in the next hearing on February 9.

Turning points in the case
Senior counsel Jehangir Mistri’s appearance in court on the first day of hearing, was a turning point of the case. He got to know about the case through his mother’s lawyers and contested the impostor’s petition.

Another twist was when a distraught Pilloo ran into Advocate RA Shaikh. “The division bench had issued an order against her to be present failing which action would be initiated against her. She was distraught and was desperately looking for legal help. I ran into her in HC premises and agreed to help her,” said Advocate Shaikh. He convinced her to reveal the truth in court and come clean about being an impostor. “The law will take its own course now. But my client has made it clear that she was forced to sign the petition as Silloo by her brother. She is as much a victim as the real Silloo,” concluded Advocate Shaikh.

Published on The Golden Sparrow

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