Court order comes after he accepted money from home buyers, but failed to construct.
A sessions court on Tuesday gave an ultimatum to Devidas Rao, promoter of Dhanista Builders and Developers, to deposit Rs 25 lakh by today and another Rs 25 lakh by Monday, and warned that failure to deposit the money could result in the court vacating the interim protection from arrest.
A group of 11 home buyers had lodged an FIR against Rao and four others at Vikroli Parksite police station on March 6 this year under IPC sections for cheating, and breach of trust under IPC and Section 4 of Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) (not registering agreement for sale after accepting 20 per cent of flat cost).
The FIR named Rao, his son Tejasvi Rao, daughters Nandita and Suparnika Rao, and an employee Bhavna Menon for allegedly duping buyers who booked flats in Dhanista Allure in Mulund, Dhanista Gardenia in Powai and Dhanista Sunshine in Ghatkopar.
On March 9, Rao and others had moved the court of Additional Sessions Judge MM Umar who directed them to refund the principal sum of Rs 2.19 crore. The court extended the interim protection from time to time on the basis of developer’s assurances that he was arranging finances and would refund the buyers.
After Mumbai Mirror reported the case, more home buyers lodged complaints with the Vikroli Parksite police against the developer. In Tuesday’s hearing, assistant Police Inspector Gokul Borse of Vikroli Parksite police informed the court that 30 home buyers had lodged complaints of cheating so far, and the amount to be refunded had increased from Rs 2.19 crore to Rs 4.85 crore.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Advocate Chitra Salunkhe, representing the home buyers, said, “I cited the example of Justice Gadkari of the High Court who asked Bhagtanis to deposit a substantial amount Rs 100 crore for cheating buyers and argued that at least Rs 2 crore should be substantial amount in this case. The developer has taken more than Rs 4 crore of people’s money and he cannot escape by simply paying a small amount of Rs 50 lakh. The court then directed the police to report to the court if the amounts promised were deposited by the developer.”
When contacted, advocate Saikumar Pathrudu M, representing the developer, said: “We explained to the court that my client only got approvals for his projects in 2018 and hence could not construct. They are also facing serious liquidity problems and have applied for bank loan, which is under due consideration. The court has asked my client to deposit Rs 25 lakh by tomorrow and Rs 25 lakh by July 23 and kept the matter for final hearing on Monday.”