Director of Mumbai\\\'s Tirupati Balaji Builders in dock for duping 1,300 home buyers

MUMBAI: Ramesh Chaudhari, a former director of a real estate company that allegedly sold 1,290 flats, without even purchasing the land on which the residential project was to come up in Panvel, has found no relief in the Bombay high court. Justice Sadhana Jadhav took note of the hardships faced by the flat purchasers and dismissed the pre-arrest bail application filed by Chaudhari.\r\n\r\n“This court cannot be oblivious of the fact that even before having the title of the land, the proposed scheme was advertised and the flats were sold. It would simply mean that the purchasers were misled,” said Justice Jadhav, adding, “At the initial stage itself, (the developer) never had the intention to construct the flats or sell them, the land was not in their name, no application was filed to seek permission for construction and nor was there any development agreement. Hence, Chaudhari does not deserve discretionary relief in the form of pre-arrest bail as a custodial interrogation would be imperative.”\r\n\r\nChaudhari’s lawyers pleaded that he was only an employee and was a director of the company for just three years between 2012 and 2015. Further, he did not personally benefit or make any money from the proceeds of the sale of the flats, they claimed. The main accused in the case are the husband-wife duo of Mahendra Singh and Rinku Sigh, proprietors of Tirupati Balaji Builders, who have already been arrested.\r\n\r\nAdditional public prosecutor Swapnil Pednekar opposed the anticipatory bail application and produced before the court a sale agreement that had Chaudhari’s signature. The high court said he shared responsibility for the company’s offence of cheating.\r\n\r\n“It was incumbent upon Chaudhari to at least address the customers on the point that the land does not stand in the name of the company. The consumers of the project have been put into a panic siuation since they had no idea that the entire project was never to come up. The builders and Chaudhari have utilized the money of the persons who had booked the flats. Hence, it is clear that an offence of cheating is (made out),” the judge added. The court clarified that its observations would not influence the trial court.\r\n\r\nThe FIR of cheating was filed against Tirupati Balaji Builders at Khandeshwar police station in Navi Mumbai by one Shivaji Desai, who had bought a flat in a proposed building project named Balaji Residency. When there was no progress in the construction, Desai sought refund of the money he had paid. He subsequently filed a criminal complaint earlier this year against the developers when they failed to allot him a flat or refund his money. A police investigation revealed that Singh was the proprietor of around 12 companies and the developer had sold flats to around 1,290 persons. The high court said that it cannot be said that Chaudhari had no concern with the affairs of the company and dismissed his application.\r\n\r\n\r\n


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