Q: My brother-in-law died in 1996, leaving behind his wife (a homemaker), two minor daughters, his retired father and mother. They lived together in a rented flat. His wife got a central government job on compassionate grounds. They bought a flat in 1998. The cost was shared by my father-in-law and brother-in-law’s wife. The sale deed was in the names of the wife and my mother-in-law. After my father-in-law passed away, the former tried to drive my mother-in-law out on the pretext that the flat belongs solely to her. Incidentally, the mutation is in her name only. Is there any way to prevent her from driving my mother-in-law out? Can the municipality issue the mutation in one name when the sale deed has two names?
A: Your mother-in-law could inform the women’s grievance cell of the local police station regarding her apprehensions. Simultaneously, she could apply to the municipal corporation to include her name in the records and add her name in the mutation certificate issued by them. She should enclose a photocopy or a certified copy of the sale deed. She can also file a civil suit for declaration and injunction, and seek restraining orders against her daughter-in-law from ousting her illegally.
Q: Our building is under the purview of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. Our neighbour has a mango tree, which has branches jutting into our land and this has damaged our building. The branches, which reach our windows, also bring ants and other insects into the house. The neighbour refuses to cut the branches even after repeated requests. Can we chop them ourselves? What does the law say?
A: According to the law of torts, both your neighbour and you have a duty of care towards each other. Hence, the overhanging branches of your neighbour’s tree would amount to trespassing into your use and enjoyment of your land. So you have a right to trim the branches overhanging your space, but you should ensure that no harm is caused to the tree. It is advisable that you send your neighbour a notice and ask him to trim the branches within a stipulated time. If that does not work, you can trim them yourself. However, this is applicable only in case of individual ownership of trees and not in the case of trees that are public property. You could also inform the local police station as well as the corporation about this.