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Lavington land saga: How it started, why DCI & Judiciary were forced to respond

The controversial case involving a dispute on a piece of land in Lavington, Nairobi took a new twist after the Judiciary weighed in on the matter.

Mahesh Kumar Bhatti was arrested in Lavington by DCI officers

In a statement on Sunday, August 20, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations justified the arrest of elderly couple Mahesh Kumar Bhatti and Anita Bhatti after a complaint by Munir Ahmed Chaundri, saying he had been denied access to a piece of land he owned in Lavington.

The video of the arrest went viral on social media, inviting the attention of many Kenyans who sought to know what had transpired.

Deputy Director of Criminal Investigations Ireri Kamwende defended the arrest, saying the DCI had found that the elderly couple had denied the owner of the land access.

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The DCI wishes to appeal to the public not to be misled by the circulations in social media without taking note of the above facts.

“The Director of Public Prosecution after considering the above facts, directed the prosecution of Mahesh Kumar Bhatti and Anita Bhatti for the offence of forceful detainer contrary to section 91 as read with section 36 of the Penal Code,” the statement read.

Chaundri bought a big plot in Lavington in 1977.

In 1987 he subdivided the land and sold one plot to the Bhattis and in 1994 rented him the other plot.

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In 2006, Chaundri asked Bhatti to build a perimeter wall around both plots with one gate for security.

In 2023, Chaundri sent an attorney to access his plot, who was denied entry, which led DCI to arrest Bhatti on a charge of forcible detainer.

A forcible detainer is when a person forcefully enters a property, like a house or land, without the owner's permission and refuses to leave.

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In a statement on Monday, August 21, the Judiciary revealed that the dispute about the ownership of the land was already before the courts.

The Judiciary also said that in the case, the arrested couple had claimed adverse rights to the contested land.

Adverse possession is a way for someone who's been using someone else's land for a long time, and openly acting like it's their own, to eventually claim ownership of that land.

The idea behind this is that if the legal owner of the land doesn't do anything to stop the other person from using it for many years, then it's kind of like they're giving up their right to it.

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The couple had also requested the courts to grant an injunction on the land until the matter was heard and determined.

The application has not been determined. The Court has set a mention date for directions on 18th September 2023. Consequently, no Court Orders have been issued with respect to the properties in question whatsoever.

We hope that this statement aids the public in verifying the emerging media reports, especially to the extent that touches on the Judicial process,” the statement read.

A number of Kenyans have raised questions over the involvement of the DCI in a civil matter, while others argued that it was possible to pursue criminal matters alongside civil matters.

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Some also questioned why the DCI failed to reveal that the matter was in court.

Many Kenyans are equally surprised about the existence of adverse possession of property, whereby someone could legally take over land if the owner didn't do anything to stop them over a period of time.

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