Dhanista promoters allegedly took money from 36 buyers but didn’t deliver
After seven months of interim protection from arrest for allegedly cheating home buyers, the Mumbai Sessions Court has rejected the anticipatory bail application by Dhanista Group Builders and Developers promoter Devidas Rao and four others, setting the stage for their possible arrest.
Additional Sessions Court Judge MM Umar on Saturday rejected the bail applications by Rao, his son Tejasvi, daughters, Nandita Rao and Sowparnika Rao-Atwane, and an employee, Bhavana Menon, booked by the Vikhroli Parksite police on charges of cheating 36 home buyers for a sum of Rs 6.28 crore.
In July, the court had given an ultimatum to Rao to deposit Rs 50 lakh by July 23 and warned that unless he deposited the money, his interim protection would be vacated. However, Rao failed to deposit the amount, and continued to plead for more time to do so.
“On Saturday, the court refused to give him any more time, and rejected the bail applications of all five. They sought more time to approach the Bombay High Court, but the court refused to give them more time,” advocate Chitra Salunkhe, representing home buyers, told Mumbai Mirror.
Immediately after the interim protection was vacated, the investigating officer of the case, Gokul Borse, went to the residence of the Rao family at Wadhwa The Address complex at Ghatkopar with the intention of taking them into custody. “We did not find them at the residence at Wadhwa complex opposite R City Mall in Ghatkopar,” said Assistant Police Inspector Borse of Vikroli Parksite police.
Rao and others are likely to move the Bombay High Court to appeal against the Sessions Court order.
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 January 2018 and hence could not construct. My client is also facing serious liquidity problems and tried to raise funds from several banks and financial institutions but failed. Mr Rao also offered eight flats to the buyers, but they rejected the offer as the flats are in Pune. The court rejected the bail appl ications last evening. The developer may approach the High Court.’’
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 developer accepted more than 20 per cent of flat cost from buyers who booked flats in Dhanista Allure in Mulund, Dhanista Gardenia in Powai and Dhanista S u n s h i n e i n Ghatkopar, but failed to construct either of the three projects.
Three days after the FIR was lodged, Rao and others moved the Mumbai Sessions Court for anticipatory bail and the court extended the interim protection for seven months on the assurance that he would repay the money. After Mumbai Mirror reported the case, more home buyers lodged complaints with the police. “As of now, we have received complaints from 36 buyers, and the total amount has increased to Rs 6.28 crore,” Borse said.