Pilloo unconditionally apologises to HC for impersonating Silloo

A division bench of Bombay High Court pulled up Thane cops for not initiating action in the entire case

Three weeks after 74-year-old Pilloo Mehta came clean about being an impostor, she tendered an unconditional apology in Bombay High Court on Tuesday. She had filed a writ petition in HC claiming to 90-year-old Silloo Mistri, who owned 107 acres of a land parcel currently worth Rs 875 crore in Thane. Impersonating Silloo, Pilloo in her petition claimed that her land had been encroached and that Thane police was not initiating action against the land mafia. However, when the petition filed in December 2015 came up for hearing for the first time on January 6, 2016, Silloo’s son Jehangir Mistri, who is a senior counsel in HC, stood up and said that his mother had not filed any such case. Over the next few hearing, the mystery unravelled, with Pilloo finally admitting on January 21 that she was an impostor.

Kersi Guard
Kersi Guard
On Tuesday, Febaruary 9, Pilloo appeared with her lawyer RA Shaikh before the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice VL Achliya and filed an affidavit stating that she had represented herself as Silloo Mistri because of coercion from her brother Kersi Guard. “I am not conversant with the facts of the case and I have only attended this Honourable Court on instruction from my brother Kersi Guard who promised to give me financial help in future in the event of my financial problems… the aforesaid act is contrary to law and I have deceived the Honourable Court into believing that I am the original Silloo Mistri… I have nothing to do with Silloo Mistri in whose name I have filed the petition,” Pilloo’s affidavit stated.

She tendered an ‘unqualified and unconditional apology’ and sought pardon from for her action. “This was the first incident wherein I have acted out of undue influence exerted by my brother who was under pressure from land mafia, particularly Gilbert Mendonca (former MLA from Mira Bhayander) who was involved in land grabbing cases in and around Mira-Bhayander belt and it has been reported to me that Mira-Bhayander police have recorded not less than 18 cases against him,” Pilloo added in her affidavit submitted to court.

Pilloo Mehta with her husband Parvez
Pilloo Mehta with her husband Parvez
In the previous court hearing on January 21, Pilloo had admitted to her guilt and her brother had stated that he was under threat from Mendonca. The court had back then asked Thane police to verify the threat to Pilloo and Kersi’s lives.

On Tuesday, February 9, HC division bench asked police if they had verified claims of threat to the lives of Pilloo and Kersi, to which police responded in affirmative. The court pulled up inspector Govind Gambhire from Kasarwadawli police station for not initiating action in time. The division bench asked Gambhire as why FIR was not registered in time and ordered that an officer of the level of deputy commissioner of police should be present in court for the next hearing on February 13. “Why do you have a blank look? What are you waiting for? Don’t you think an FIR should have been registered? Are you waiting for our orders? This is a serious matter. The culprits in the case might have used the same modus operandi and forged several property documents and cheated others,” remarked the court while addressing inspector Gambhire.

Meanwhile, the real Silloo Mistri’s lawyers told the court that they would not be able to file a complaint with Thane police in the entire matter. They informed the court that Silloo was 89 years old and in position to go all the way to Thane from her South Mumbai residence to file an FIR. They, however, said that Silloo would cooperate with the authorities if they do investigate the case further.

Who is Pilloo Mehta?
On Tuesday 74-year-old Pilloo Mehta turned up in court with her brother Kersi Guard and lawyer RA Shaikh. Her brother did not allow her to talk to TGS. We went to her residence at Malegaonwala building in Mumbai Central, where she lives with her 83-year-old husband Parvez. Her husband revealed that they used to own a house in Khetwadi, South Mumbai. They sold their house owing to a civil dispute and live with their son for a while. Parvez claimed that due to frequent quarrels in the house, the couple decided to move out of their son’s house. In 2014, they finally shifted to a one room kitchen flat in Malegaonwala building, which Parvez says has been given to them on rent by a Zoroastrian trust.

“I used to work with a private firm and after retirement started a careering service. My wife Pilloo used to be a teacher with an English medium school in South Mumbai. Kersi is her only sibling, but I do not like him much. I don’t talk to him but Pilloo interacts with her brother often,” Parvez said. He added that he was aware of his wife landing in trouble over some forged documents. “Pilloo told me that she is not directly involved and did so only because her brother asked her to sign on the papers. For over a year Kersi has been luring her with false promises of money if she signs on some papers. Since we are a middle class family, I think my wife signed on the papers. Parvez said that he was not awrae of Pilloo impersonating Silloo Mistri. “All she told me was that her brother was under pressure from some goons and asked her to sign the papers,” concluded Parvez, who claims to be part of a Parsi theatre group.

About the case
Bombay-High-CourtIt 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 Mistri, 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. Lawyers representing the fake Silloo were stunned and told the court that the lady was outside the courtroom. One of the lawyers went out to look for her but returned without her. Despite being summoned to court the fake Silloo did not turn up in court. Meanwhile real Silloo’ son Jehangir maintained that his mother’s identity had been stolen.

In a couple of hearings court was convinced that the person who had filed the petition was an impostor. They compared the documents of fake Silloo with the real ones and found that while the details matched, photographs were of two different people. Fake Silloo’s lawyers told the court that they had asked to file the petition by her brother Kersi Guard. On January 12, when the case came up for hearing, 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. The division bench of HC 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. On January 14, HC issued a warning and asked the person who had filed the petition to be present on January 21 failing which they would initiate action.

On January 21, when the case came up for hearing, 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 Parvez 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. Kersi Guard 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.

Once Pilloo revealed her identity the entire mystery was unraveled. According to Thane cops, the real 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.

“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.

Published on The Golden Sparrow