He is a senior Supreme Court lawyer who had fought the Indira Gandhi assassination case and the son of former Election Commissioner G V G Krishnamurthy. Yet, it took G Venkatesh Rao 12 long years to get a tenant evicted from his property in Indiranagar. The litigation proved costly, for Rao spent Rs 35 lakh, fought 15 cases and lost Rs 1.5 crore in rents and fell into debt.
Today, after fighting a bitter battle in Bangalore and Delhi high courts and taking possession of the property, Rao dusts piles of files and documents pertaining to the case to preserve them for posterity. The 5,400 sqft property, located on Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, is a premium space which currently commands nothing less than Rs 15,000 per sqft. It was gifted to Rao’s wife Padmamalini by her father.
Rao’s family, which is based in Delhi, had rented it out. The tenant had tried to grab it using all possible tactics, including fabricating documents.
“If this is what I have gone through despite being a senior lawyer and coming from an influential background, you can imagine the plight of those unaware of the law. My tenant refused to budge from property, stopped paying rent, began construction and hired goons to hold out threats.”
Rao’s family filed eviction suits against the tenant in 1998 after the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Customs and Income Tax officials raided his premises and seized incriminating documents from him. In 1999, Rao gave his tenant six months’ time to vacate. The latter went to court with a false suit.
“In 1994, my tenant paid Rs 15,000 as rent for the 1,500 sqft space. In 1996, he added another 1,500 sqft and paid Rs 20,000. A few years after the litigation began, he stopped paying rent (from 2007). Anyone in my place would either have given up or would have gone insane,” says Rao.
Rao fought 15 cases, including criminal trespass, injunctions, theft, Section 145 CrPC and extortion – his tenant allegedly made extortion calls to his family in Delhi demanding Rs 3 crore to vacate the premises. The long-drawn eviction process also saw a series of correspondences to the state administration – from internal security wing of the ministry of home affairs to then DG & IGP, to Raj Bhavan directing the police commissioner to look into the issue, and the CBI, requesting city police to initiate action.
As a junior counsel in attorney general’s office in the eighties, Rao was a part of the government team which handled the appeal in Indira Gandhi assassination case in SC, which went on for three years. “The case was a challenge, getting two of the accused to the gallows. But handling my own case was nothing short of torture,” he added.
The 12-year legal battle saw the family paying huge sums to fellow lawyers — Rs 35 lakh, incur professional loss of Rs 1.5 crore and a rental loss of Rs 1.5 crore. “We went into debt, sold shares and my profession was seriously affected.”
As the son of former EC, did Rao use his father’s name? “My father was not even fully aware of my struggle. I felt he would be hurt to know my wife and I got into such a situation. But people knew who I am and who my father is. Of course, my family name worked for me.”
Rao, who is still facing some litigation, threats and intimidation, got the premises renovated and rented it out anew. The premises now sports a new nameboard, ‘G V Rao and Mrs P G Rao’