Sale of Desai House stopped after State seeks special status

Desai House. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Environment and Lands Court has saved the iconic Desai House from being auctioned after the government moved to preserve it as a national monument.

Justice Samson Okong’o issued the order stopping Keysian Auctioneers from proceeding with the sale of the Sh600 million property originally owned by the late freedom fighter Jashbhai Motibhai Desai before he bequeathed it two children and grandchildren.

“The intended sale of the property by Keysian Auctioneers through a public auction is hereby stopped and in the event that anybody has proceeded to pay for the house, the same shall be treated as null and void,” ruled Justice Okong’o.

The judge directed that the status quo over ownership of the pre-colonial house, which sits on a 1.7-acre land within Parklands estate, be maintained until determination of the suit by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts seeking to preserve it as a national monument.

The court had in May allowed Keysian Auctioneers to sell the house at a reserve price of Sh412 million after two of Desai’s beneficiaries failed to agree with a private developer, Suchan Investments Limited, on how to divide the property.

Before his death in 1991, Desai bequeathed the property to his two children, Dipa Pulling and Niranjan Jashbhai, and his two grandchildren Sandeep Desai and Kevit Subash with each of them holding equal quarter share.

Justice Okong’o directed all the parties claiming a share of the property to file their responses to the government suit and scheduled the hearing for July 28.