Mumbai Woman Denied Home for Being a Muslim to Seek Legal Remedy

Mumbai: A 25-year-old woman professional evicted from a flat by the building society as she was a Muslim has taken up the matter with the National Commission for Minorities and is seeking a probe into the builder’s “discriminatory policy.”

Misbah Quadri, who works with a public relations agency, had been living in an apartment at Kandivali in the western suburbs of Mumbai since the time she shifted to the city from Gujarat a year back.

Recently, she tried to move to a flat in the Wadala area but met with a shocking response from the builder of the apartment.

“After a lot of searching, I finally found a house at Wadala and paid a deposit of Rs 24,000 through a broker. A night before I was to move in, I got a call from the broker, warning me not to shift there as it is the builder’s policy to not have Muslim tenants. I tried to reason with him but he did not oblige,” Quadri told PTI.

She claimed that the broker asked her to sign a “no-objection certificate” declaring that if she faced any harassment from her neighbours because of her religion, the builder, the owner and the broker “would not be legally responsible.”

“I had to move into the flat though I did not agree with the terms because the notice period with my previous flat had expired and there was nowhere I could go. After a week, the broker called me again and asked me to leave. I had no option then but to leave the flat. Presently I am staying at a paying guest accommodation in Bandra,” she said.

Quadri claimed that when she approached the representative of the builder who has an office in the same building, she was told that it was a policy of theirs to not give homes on rent to Muslims.

“He also said that maybe 5-6 years down the line they may start renting flats to Muslims,” she said.

Meanwhile, activist Shehzad Poonawala, in a petition filed before the National Minorities Commission, has prayed that an inquiry be conducted into the allegation to ascertain whether the builder has a discriminatory policy against a religious community, which involves violation of constitutional provisions.

He also sought legal action against the builder and the broker and urged the Commission to direct the Central government to call for a meeting of all stake-holders including real estate brokers, developers, state governments, activists, Home Ministry, Social Justice Ministry, Urban Housing Ministry and so on and issue strict legislative and statutory guidelines against discrimination in housing.

Poonawala also suggested promulgation of a “Fair Housing Law” or guidelines on illegal discrimination against any community in matters concerning housing.