Saturday, 6 October 2018

Let us write Open Letter to CM & CP about Bogus Chargesheets

Dear Friends,

As you are aware, we have made a huge difference by writing open letters in the past.

In November 2017, we wrote an open letter to Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, signed by 55 Riyo victims in Borivali National Park. As a result, Justice Badar was restricted from hearing Bhagtani's ABA matter by an order that said, "Not before any bench of which Justice A.M. Badar is a part".

In December 2017, we wrote an open letter to Maharashtra CM asking why Bhagtanis were still roaming free and enjoying life. This letter had physical signatures collected from 267 Bhagtani victims of different projects. Shortly afterwards, in January 2018, Diipesh Bhagtani was forced to surrender to EOW.

Friends, it is time for us to fire again. This time, the open letter has to be about defective chargesheets that the police have filed for Riyo and Serenity, and other projects also.  Let us send this letter to CM, Minister of State for Home, Director General of Police (Maharashtra), Police Commissioner and Joint CP-EOW.

To download the draft of open letter, click on this link.

In December 2017, copies of the open letter and signature sheets were kept in Mira Road, Goregaon, Andheri, Dadar, Churchgate, Powai and Mulund by various persons at their offices and shops, so that people could come and sign. Those who were abroad or outside Mumbai took printouts of the letter, signed it and sent it directly. 

I hope we can coordinate and gather at least 300 or more signatures this time.

If you don't live in Mumbai, you can take a printout of this version of the letter. 
Just take a printout, sign and send it! 

Please feel free to call me in case of doubts and queries.

Krishnaraj Rao

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Riyo & Serenity chargesheets: Is EOW betraying Bhagtani victims?

Mumbai, 4th October, 2018: Is the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police deliberately going easy on Bhagtanis? Are the forensic auditors and Forensic Science Laboratory going slow? Eyebrows must rise that EOW's chargesheets of Bhagtani Riyo and Serenityfiled in April and August, are against Diipesh Bhagtani, and not against JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd and its directors Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani. 
Regardless of whether it is proper or improper, omission from the chargesheet gives Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani extra time to continue living abroad and doing hera-pheri. As long as they are considered only suspects, and not chargesheeted offenders, they remain safe from Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, Interpol Red Corner Notices, deportation to India, police interrogation and judicial custody. 

Two things that EOW cops often tell victims: 

(a) They reportedly say that all Bhagtani bank accounts show zero balance. (This is a blanket statement made without authorization, and without any specific details.)

(b) They reportedly say that all cases are "moving towards settlement". (Another blanket statement without authorization, which suggests that EOW is facilitating the recent moves towards filing civil cases and signing consent terms.) The cops seem to imply that police investigation will be closed when the settlement happens. 

So people are feeling pressured to enter into a settlement for what is touted as the only remaining asset, i.e. the project land and/or its development rights. Irrespective whether the cops are saying such things intentionally, or simply as a smokescreen for deflecting victims' questions, it creates a psychological environment ripe for exploitation. Never mind that project land or development rights is imaginary, hyped-up or unsaleable assets, Bhagtanis and their association-wallahs are able to dangle them before victims like juicy bait, only because the cops uphold their story.  

What is strange in the two chargesheets?

1. The culprit is clearly JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd, but police only considers Diipesh Bhagtani as culprit in individual capacity. The Riyo and Serenity FIRs names as accused (i) JVPD Properties Private Limited (ii) Diipesh Bhagtani (iii) Mukesh Bhagtani (iv) Laxman Bhagtani, in that specific order. The police statements on which FIRs are based, say that booking amount cheques were made out in favour of "developer Messrs JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd", after the victims visited the project site and saw the company's hoardings there. The complaints are clear that the money changed hands with Diipesh, Mukesh and Laxman Bhagtani only in their capacities as company directors. At all times, Diipesh Bhagtani acted in his capacity as a director of JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd.  It is amazing that chargesheets are filed only against Diipesh Bhagtani in his individual capacity. JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd, Mukesh and Laxman are termed as "accused persons not chargesheeted (suspect)"!

 "Reasons for not chargesheeting" are (i) investigation is still ongoing (ii) one hard disk seized from the office has been referred to Forensic Science Laboratories, and the report has not yet been received. (iii) Account books and documents seized has been referred to the forensic auditor, and report is awaited. (iv) Bank account details of the accused are still awaited, for determining the conspiracy by the accused.

Regardless of whether such reasoning is sound or unsound, the effect of not chargesheeting the "corporate person" called JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd is that its directors Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani are roaming free. 

2. Only one hard disk has been sent to Forensic Science Laboratories for analysis! In an office with so many sales and CRM staff, there would surely have been at least half a dozen PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones, plus data storage media such as DVDs and pen-drives. It defies logic that the police could only lay their hands on one solitary hard-drive mentioned in the Riyo chargesheet. 

3. One year of SIT investigation can't nail down JVPD Properties! A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up in October 2017. There is an abundance of witnesses and evidence, as this economic crime was committed in broad daylight over several years, with the help of a dozen employees and bank managers. Even then, chargesheets say that SIT hasn't yet uncovered the paper trail! Is this believable?

BOTTOMLINE: It is crucial that Bhagtani companies are chargesheeted, so that Mukesh and Lakshman are nabbed, deported to India, interrogated and tried for this massive corporate crime. Till then, they will continue money-laundering and digesting the wealth of their 2500 victims while sitting abroad.

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Draft consent terms for Bhagtani Serenity Victims

Mumbai, 9th September, 2018: Victims of Bhagtani Serenity are experiencing a powerful current sweeping them towards settlement with the Bhagtani builders. What the builders want is a clean chit i.e. withdrawal of criminal complaints, quashing of FIRs, and closure of proceedings under Negotiable Instruments Act. What they are offering in exchange is conveyance of Serenity project land and/or transfer of development rights in favour of "Serenity Welfare Association".

Invitation to the first meeting of this association is being circulated on Whatsapp. It says:

Dear All,
Expect to be held on 23 September 2018.....
All Serenity  Member's (Buyers) are Requested to Attend.....
Time: BTN 10:00 -11:00 AM
Venue : Serenity Plot or as Decided by Member's (Buyers)

Has this association been formed and registered? Has a civil case already been filed by this association? It is doubtful. But it appears that the leaders of this association already have a detailed plan to quickly file a civil case and quickly sign consent terms, following in the footsteps of Sapphire Welfare Association.

It is amazing to find that consent terms have already been drafted! (It's a bit like a pregnant woman or her husband has not only named the child, but also printed invitation cards in advance for the child's wedding!) 

Who drafted these consent terms? Lawyers from the association's side, or Bhagtani's side? My guess is that it does not matter, because they are basically one and the same.

Below are the draft consent terms sent to me on WhatsApp:

SUIT (lodging) NO. 586 OF 2018.
Serenity Welfare Association & Ors.     … Plaintiffs.
J.V.P.D Properties Pvt Ltd & Ors.        ... Defendants.


The Plaintiff No. 1 Association and Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 have agreed to settle the entire dispute amicably and thereby have agreed to file the Consent Terms as under:

1. That the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 hereby confirms that they are the absolute legal owners of the land bearing CTS No. 63A/5, and  64 D, Village Tirandaz, Taluka- Kurla, Mumbai Suburban District (hereinafter referred to as the “Suit Property”).

2. The MCGM has approved the plans, issued IOD and commencement certificate of the suit  propriety.

3. That, the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 undertakes that within 30 days from the signing of the present consent terms, the Defendants at their own expense, will execute the Deed of Conveyance and / or transfer of development rights in favour of the Plaintiff No. 1Association, in respect of the suit property being land bearing CTS No.63 A/ 5 and 64 D, Village Tirandaz, Taluka- Kurla, Mumbai Suburban District along with all their rights, interest and title in the suit property.

4. That, after passing of a decree / Order on this present Consent Terms settlement, the Plaintiff Association shall forward the same to the District Stamp Office for adjudication and on receipt of the said adjudication certificate / order the same shall be submitted before the Office of Registrar and / or Sub – Registrar of Assurances for the Registration and the defendants agrees and undertakes to attend the Office of Registrar and / or Sub – Registrar of Assurances for the Registration of Deed of Conveyance and / or transfer of development rights.

5. The Defendant Nos 1 to 3 shall execute registered Power of Attorney in favour of authorized representatives appointed by the Plaintiff Association.

6. The Plaintiff Association agrees and confirms that on the execution of the Deed of Conveyance and / or transfer of development rights of suit property in favour of the Plaintiff association and/or its nominees is full and final settlement of the claim of the Plaintiff members against the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 as made in the Plaint including the claim of other purchasers who booked the Flats in the Suit Project “Bhagtani Serenity” at Powai.  A list of all the purchasers who booked Flats in Suit Project “Bhagtani Serenity ” at Powai is annexed as Annexure “A” herein.

7. That the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 shall handover the entire original documents pertaining to the Suit Property alongwith the MCGM related applications, permissions,iod , cc , Approvals, etc obtained by the Defendant No.s 1 to 3 to the Plaintiff Association without any delay.

8. That, the Defendant Nos. 1 have provided a list which contains the following details and same is annexed as Annexure “A” herein:

I. Total Square Feet area sold in the “Suit Property” to the Flat Buyers / Investors / Creditors as per the list annexed as Annexure A.
II. Total payment received from the Flat Buyers / Investors / Creditors for the “Suit Property” as per the list annexed as Annexure A.
III. Total refund amount paid to the Flat Buyers / Investors / Creditors of the “Suit Property” as per the list annexed as Annexure A.
IIII. Total outstanding balance payable to the Flat Buyers / Investors / Creditors of the “Suit Property” as per the list annexed as Annexure A.
V. The total outstanding amount of the Xender Finance Limited the Defendant No. 4 herein is Rs       ———————

9. The Plaintiff Association agrees to development of the Suit Project “Bhagtani Serenity” at Powai by appointing another developer and as herein after appearing.

10. The Plaintiff Association agrees and undertakes that as and when the other allottees / purchasers (as per the list annexed as Annexure “A”) of the Suit Project “Bhagtani Serenity” (who are not the part of the Association at present) will approach the Plaintiff association for membership, then Plaintiff association shall admit and induct them as a member of the Plaintiff Association.

11. The Plaintiff Association agrees that they will call the bid for the appointment of new Developer through publication in newspaper.  After receipt of the bids the same shall be placed before the members of the Association and as per the majority approval they shall appoint the new Developer.

12. The Plaintiff Association further agrees that alternatively ,the Plaintiff Association shall sell the suit property to third party and distribute the amount to the purchasers (Exhibit “A” herein) in proportion of the amount given by them to Defendant No. 1.

13. The defendant No .4 agrees to relinquish all  their rights of whatsoever nature in respect of the entire loan /finance provided by them on the suit premises to the defendant No 1 to 3 . The Xender finance , defendant No. 4 herein hereby release the mortgage of the suit premises and handover the possession to the Plaintiff association . 

14. The parties hereby withdraw all allegations, aspersions raised against each other, unconditionally.

15. Some members of the Plaintiff Association and also some Flat Buyers / Investors / Creditors of the “Suit Property” have filed criminal complaints in the concerned Police Station and Courts and also the proceedings under Section 138 r/w section 141 of Negotiable Instrument Act against the Defendants and their family members, which are pending before the various Hon’ble Courts.  On execution of these presents, the said members of the said Plaintiff Association shall immediately withdraw the said Criminal Complaints and all other complaints filed under Section 138 r/w 141 of Negotiable Instrument Act or any other forum against the Defendants and their other family members.

16. The Plaintiff agrees and undertakes to give its consent for quashing of the F.I.R. NO.     of 2017 dated        / 2017 registered u/s 406, 420, 120 (B) r/w 34 of IPC by Police Station now transferred to E.O.W. Housing Unit -I as C.R. No.   of 2017, as and when the Defendants and the other accused therein make appropriate proceedings in respect of the same.

17. That Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 hereby confirms that they have not created or purported to create any tenancy, license, charge, lease, mortgage, lien or any kind of third party rights over the Suit Property except what is stated in the Exhibit A and no other person or party have any right, title or interest, claim or demand in to or upon the same either by way of mortgage, gift, trust, inheritance, lease or otherwise and that the same are free from all encumbrances and there is no pending litigation of any kind over the Suit Property.

18. That the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 do hereby agree, admit and undertake to keep the Plaintiff Association Indemnified against any charge, claim, action, penalty or any other action whatsoever by any third party or anybody claiming through the third party and Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 do HEREBY INDEMNIFY THE PLAINTIFF ASSOCIATION AND TO UNDERTAKE TO KEEP THE PLAINTIFF ASSOCIATION HARMLESS.

19. That, the Defendant Nos. 1 to 3 shall support the Plaintiff Association and new developer in every aspects including signing any papers for obtaining permissions needed in future in respect of the development of the project or to sell the suit property.

20. Notwithstanding what is provided in this consent terms, breach of any of the clauses mentioned above shall be construed as an event of default thereof and the non defaulting party shall have the right to seek legal recourse to challenge such a breach and seek necessary legal reliefs from competent court.

21. The Plaintiffs shall be entitled to refund of court fees as per rules.

22. The suit shall be disposed off in the aforesaid terms and decree be drawn accordingly.

23. Parties to act on authenticate copy.

24. Certified copy is expedited.

25. No order as to costs.

Dated this ____day of September , 2018.

One hopes that all the Serenity victims -- or at least the tiny handful who have some legal and financial literacy -- will exercise their critical minds about all the things that are fundamentally wrong in these consent terms. One hopes that sanity will prevail. It is exhausting to repeatedly tell people that jumping over a cliff is injurious to health. 

Krishnaraj Rao

Monday, 27 August 2018

Bhagtani Victims, say hello to Anand & Narain P Bhagtani

Mumbai, 27th August, 2018: Last week, Sapphire Welfare Association's (SWA) consent terms -- designed to getting Bhagtanis off the hook -- were set aside by an order of Bombay High Court. It was thanks to another association, called Dahisar Sapphire Flat Owner Welfare Association (DSFOWA), who pinpointed to the high court a deemed conveyance orders in favour of Panch Dham Society. 

The Panch Dham deemed conveyance orders proved beyond doubt that Sapphire project land was not  available for transfer by Bhagtani to SWA. (Association-wallahs of other Bhagtani projects shepherding gullible victims towards accepting project land are requested to take note.)

Read the Panch Dham deemed conveyance orders here.

Panch Dham orders also put the spotlight on two new Bhagtani family members who were hitherto unknown. Has anybody ever heard of Anand P Bhagtani and Narain P Bhagtani, brothers of our well-known Lacchman P Bhagtani?  Say hello to two brand-new Bhagtanis.

What we know currently is that they are (or were until recently) partners of Jaycee Construction Co, which, being an unregistered entity, defies public scrutiny. Its accounts are a blackhole into which hundreds of crores could disappear without a trace. So, are the new Bhagtanis an important part of Sapphire and other projects, from where Rs 425 cr were siphoned off? Or are they casual bystanders? Samay hi batayega... aur research bhi batayega!

About Anand P Bhagtani, a cursory google search throws up this brochure and this Income tax case. Jai Baba Googleshwar!
Besides Panch Dham, Anand P Bhagtani's brochure names many
projects across the city, and even outside.

On a lighter note: August seems to be an eventful month. One year ago, I wrote my first article about Bhagtani (after publishing videos of Sapphire people protesting in April). Police registered FIRs for many Bhagtani projects in August-September 2017.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Krishnaraj Rao

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Bhagtani Savannah Vrushali Patil case: What did we learn?

Mumbai, 22 August, 2018: Bhagtani Savannah victims have gotten used to being kept in the dark, and making their legal decisions based on very little information. In this respect, Vrushali Patil's case was like a bright ray of light in a dimly-lit room. Whatever else the merits or demerits of this legal initiative, one major benefit was the enormous amount of information that it yielded -- not only for Savannah but for Bhagtani victims of all Bhagtani projects.

Paradoxically, people seem to have little willingness to analyze and digest this information! It appears that Bhagtani victims have grown tired of exercising their brains. "When are we getting our money or our flats? We are exhausted! We don't want to use our brains any longer!" is what they seem to be saying. (This is a natural human reaction in the face of tragic loss and hopelessness, but unfortunately, such reactions will not lead to any productive results!) 

Of the 1300 pages of material available, we have scanned around 400 pages in various batches. (We haven't scanned roughly 900 pages of exhibits.) These scanned documents are available for download in this online folder:


1) INITIALLY AGAINST BHAGTANI ONLY: Vrushali Patil & 110 others filed a civil case in Nov 2017, "Commercial Suit no. 30 of 2018", which was initially against Bhagtanis only. The land-owners (Harmohan Singh Chandok and Rabinder Kaur Chandok, and their company, Babu Builders) were not in the picture when this suit was filed. The reliefs sought were against Bhagtanis only, and the reliefs may be summarized in layman's language as, "Direct the Bhagtanis give us (i.e. flat purchasers) the flats as per the original contract i.e. allotment letters, or let them give us the land and enable us to construct the flats ourselves by appointing contractors. Tell them to account for the money they have received from us, and deposit the same with the court receiver, so that we can use it for constructing the flats. Restrain Bhagtanis from creating any third-party rights while this suit is pending." The land-owners were tagged on a party later. Read

2) LATER AGAINST CHANDOK ALSO: Based on subsequent discovery of the details of the Bhagtani-Chandok deal, Vrushali Patil's team later argued that Chandok was not only a land-owner, but also a co-promoter. Based on this, they sought similar reliefs against Chandok also. (Read The new evidences presented by Vrushali Patil's team uncovers many hidden lies in Bhagtani's story which victims of Savannah (and also other projects) blindly believed.

3) BHAGTANI'S DEFENSE IS TRIVIAL & NON-SERIOUS. Bhagtani's lawyer Sahil Mahajan evidently sees no need at all to defend this case. In his tiny Affidavit-In-Reply, he has blandly stated that MD Devcon collected about Rs 147 cr and refunded about Rs 85 lakh i.e. less than 1%. There is nothing else in the affidavit. Bhagtani is basically standing aside and letting victims' battle it out with Chandok. Read

4) CHANDOK'S DEFENSE IS SERIOUS. Chandok not only filed an Affidavit-In-Reply, but also a Chamber Summons in response to Vrushali Patil's petition, revealing the weaknesses of the stand taken by them. He also mounted an offensive against Bhagtani, declaring his development agreement with Bhagtani null and void, on the grounds of Bhagtani's alleged breach of contract. Chandok's defense also uncovers many hidden lies in Bhagtani's story. Read Chandok's Affidavit


From this civil litigation, what has been gained and/or lost? Obviously, Savannah victims -- especially litigants -- will feel a sense of great loss if they don't get the reliefs that they prayed for, i.e. development rights of the land. Based on the facts on record, it is my personal opinion that it is unlikely that development rights of the land can be transferred to Savannah victims.

It is also my opinion that this is better for the victims, because if they got the land development rights, they would lose even more money and be open to rampant exploitation by Bhagtani's stooges. Why? I will explain this separately.

So I believe that false hopes have been lost, or will be lost in the near future. It is good to lose false hopes, which are otherwise used as psychological handles by predatory and parasitical people.

BUT FRESH GROUNDS FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION & CIVIL PROCEEDINGS HAVE BEEN GAINED. Huge amount of specific documents arguably revealing Bhagtani's intent to cheat have been discovered, and these can be used for launching fresh civil and criminal proceedings against Bhagtani. In the end, only energetic litigation provides some hope of recovery of funds.

I will write separate articles about specific documents and what they show.

Krishnaraj Rao


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Bhagtani victims: Unite with Cash-and-Carry principle

12th July, 2018, Mumbai: My blog criticizing the consent terms of Sapphire Welfare Association (SWA) with Bhagtanis raised a hornet's nest. Some angry people asked whether I had any solution for getting their money back. If I didn't, I should just shut up, they said. (They also said a whole bunch of other things, but let us focus on the constructive part.)

Yes, since you ask, I have specific ideas about how to get your money back. My proposed method is: Cash-and-carry (CAC). If a party's credit-worthiness is zero and he is already deep in debt, trade with them on CAC terms. Stop extending credit! 

What Bhagtanis want from you now is quashing of FIR and withdrawal of complaints. What you want is your money. So you should aim to get what you want at the same time as (or before) Bhagtanis what they want -- not a day later! Like they say in movies, "Ek haath se do, ek haath se lo". Shopkeepers call it cash-and-carry. Everything else can be negotiated, but for heaven's sake, stop trading with Bhagtanis on credit! Learn your lesson already!

Ek haath se do, ek haath se lo.
Why barter is a terrible idea

While Diipesh is in custody, Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani are in control of substantial wealth. The Rs 427 crore that they admit to having collected from various projects did not vanish like a tub of water poured on desert sand! Although absconding and abroad for many months, Bhagtanis are able to sustain themselves, pay expensive lawyers and organize their employees who continue to do their bidding. Don't assume that Bhagtanis are unable to pay you actual money in exchange for what they want i.e. withdrawal of complaints and quashing of FIRs.

Doing barter trade is a bad idea because the actual value of the trade goods they offer (such as Sapphire land) is totally unknown and unassessed, and the amount of time before you will get its value in your bank account is totally uncertain. If you barter, there is every likelihood that the builders or the association will make you shell out huge amounts of money in future -- and how much money is impossible to estimate. So, opting for conveyance of land is a formula for exploiting you for an indefinite amount of time.  You will remain indefinitely mired in this mess if you keep making these bad choices!

So, don't barter like a stone-age man. Trade like a civilized person. Ask for refund of your money even if it appears less, because, unlike trade goods,  you know the exact value of money, and it is immediately useful for your family. Money is the only acceptable trade also because it gives you an immediate and clean exit from this whole jhamela!

Don't trade deliverables for promises

My main criticism of SWA consent terms is that withdrawal of complaints and quashing of FIR etc. will happen first (i.e. they are deliverables), whereas land conveyance etc. is supposed to follow later on (i.e. they are promises). Also, the land will be in the association's hands, and not in yours.

Please read the questionable wordings of the consent terms, and note how the allegations and complaints against Bhagtanis stand immediately withdrawn, unconditionally. Read this:

These consent terms are a clean chit which you are giving
before Bhagtanis fulfill any commitment.
On what basis are you giving this clean chit?

Why should you trust Bhagtanis' promises? Were their allotment letters and cancellation deeds honoured? Were their post-dated cheques and credit notes honoured? Were their promises of transfer of investment honoured? No, no, no, and again, no!

Did Bhagtani deposit Rs 22 crore as per his commitment in his affidavit? NO. Did Bhagtani disclose all true facts in his two affidavits? NO. (Read this article about affidavits.) So, what makes you believe that they will honour the consent terms? Blind faith or herd mentality?

Complaints, FIRs, cheque-bouncing cases etc are your only grip on the builders. If they get freedom from criminal and civil proceedings, they have successfully escaped!

1) Unite under Cash-and-Carry principle. All Bhagtani victims who believe in the principle of Ek haath se do, ek haath se lo should unite in a single Whatsapp group (Click here to join: ). This group can work in harmony with existing groups/associations and leaderships, provided the leaders publicly resolve to work on CAC principle only. It will have project-wise subdivisions e.g. Sapphire CAC group, Savannah CAC group, etc. You can be members of other groups and associations, as long as you accept the CAC principle. Anybody who rejects the CAC principle in speech and actions will be gently urged to leave the group, or expelled. Within the space of CAC principle, anything and everything can be discussed and debated.

2) Increase the number of criminal complaints and civil cases against Bhagtanis. CAC group should aggressively aim to facilitate more people to file FIRs -- either directly with police EOW, or through magistrate (private complaints), as well as cheque-bouncing cases and other proceedings. EOW's habit of filing one FIR per project by listing most victims as witnesses, is arguably unlawful and a misuse of their powers; let us challenge this malpractice in all possible ways, including moving High Court through a writ petition after making all other efforts. Every additional FIR and/or civil case will increase the pressure on Bhagtani.

3) Become intervenors in existing civil cases and file caveats against quashing petitions. The objective is to prevent "soft" consent terms from being signed, and thereby prevent Bhagtanis from getting a soft and easy exit. If you are a member of a group leaning towards soft consent terms, then generate opinion in favour of CAC principle!

4) Energetic action and no free lunches. Members should participate in regular morchas, frequent visits to Mantralaya and EOW, and at least two meetings with political leaders of various parties to highlight our grievances per month. Ideally, one meeting and/or photo-op should be happen every week, even if it is as trivial as a meeting with a local Shiv Sena shakha pramukh or local journalist! We need to lobby vigourously, not only with Mantralaya, but with every politico who will give us a hearing. By doing so, we should provide regular material for Twitter feeds and Facebook shares, and keeping Bhagtanis in the public eye through such constant meetings. Creating a continuous social media drumbeat is a key part of this entire activity. Non-participating members, who are unable to attend or substantially help in organizing these events, will be asked to pay costs (say Rs 500/- per morcha/meeting/event). This amount will be distributed among group members who stay active at the ground-level, and who organize/attend the morcha/meeting. And while we are on this topic, yes, I will personally charge Rs 300/- per group member per month; if the work I am doing isn't worth ten bucks per day in your eyes, then guys, I should die of shame.

5) If or when Bhagtanis enter into negotiations with CAC group for withdrawal of cases, there is only one basis for negotiations: Money in the accounts of all group members. The key point is that money has to be actually deposited in your accounts through RTGS. We will agree to withdraw some complaints or allow quashing of some FIRs, but only against receipt of bank transfers to the accounts of all current group members. Be clear in your mind that we may willingly write off substantial part of the debt to be repaid, rather than hold on to large notional figures that include principal, interest, compensation etc. For example, we may show willingness to settle for 50% payment. Whatever repayment is decided after discussions and negotiations with Bhagtanis, that amount has to be actually delivered by RTGS to your individual accounts before any complaint is withdrawn. At the very outset, we emphatically reject proposals to pay in kind, e.g. by conveyance of land, transfer of investment to other projects, etc.

6) This is a reality-check. It is a make-or-break decision. Either recover money or inflict punishments by vigourously prosecuting the builders. Say no to easy escape-routes for Bhagtanis where they get away scot-free by giving you a lollipop.

Of course, not everybody needs to subscribe to the CAC principle. It's okay even if a majority of people prefer lollipops to CAC. We don't need to be a majority; even being a sizeable minority will serve the same purpose.

Am I making sense here? Then click on, and embrace the CAC group.

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Great escape for Bhagtani builders, lollipops for flat-buyers in Sapphire consent terms

Mumbai, 7th July, 2018: I wrote an article yesterday disclosing the consent terms signed by Sapphire Welfare Association (SWA) with Bhagtani bulders. *(In case you haven't read it, click here and read it first.) Until we got our hands on these consent terms two days ago and placed it in the public domain, it was a closely guarded secret. 

If consent terms is a straightforward deal, why didn't SWA announce their achievement immediately? Why were there only cryptic references such as "It is time to buy the mithai, but don't distribute it". Why keep it secret? The reason is: the consent terms are a great escape for Bhagtanis. They seek to give a clean chit and easy exit from the Sapphire cases to the absconding builders.

Obvious issues in the consent terms:

1) If fugitives evading Indian judiciary sign an agreement in India through their power-of-attorney, what is its legal validity?  The consent terms signed by Diipesh Bhagtani in jail, on behalf of Jaycee Construction Co, a partnership firm that includes Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani, is legally questionable. Can the Indian judiciary bless an agreement with a partnership firm where majority of partners are fugitive economic offenders, hiding in a foreign country while being wanted by Indian law enforcement agencies? Does the law allow absconders to enter into fresh contracts through a power-of-attorney? And that too in respect of police investigations in the same project for which they are absconding? That doesn't sound right. 

2) In return for consent terms, it is ok to withdraw the suit petition; but why withdraw the FIR? SWA's suit petition in High Court had nothing to do with FIR no 507 of 2017, or the cases under Negotiable Instruments Act for cheque bouncing. SWA did not file these cases; in fact, SWA was not even formed when these cases were filed. The suit petition is a "civil remedy", whereas FIR is a "criminal remedy". It is not within the domain of SWA to use withdrawal of these cases as a bargaining counter to negotiate any terms with Bhagtanis.

3) Unfair trade: you give Bhagtani actual deliverables, they give you promises. According to the consent terms, you will give Bhagtanis immediate deliverables, and in return, they will give you promises of future performance -- promises that are difficult to legally enforce, promises that are easily broken. This pattern has been repeated many times: First you gave them lakhs of rupees, and they gave you a promise of refunding it with 15% interest, and then you waited for some years before discovering that they had broken the promise. Then you went back to them, they replaced the earlier promise with a new promise but they took something more in return (e.g. you agreed to write off the interest plus paid them a few lakhs extra, and in return, they promised to transfer your principal amount to Horizon, Shubh Atika, Serena, after some weeks or months.) AFTER EVERY BROKEN DEAL, YOU HELPLESSLY GO AND ACCEPT A NEW DEAL FOR RECOVERING YOUR LOSS. A KEY FEATURE OF EVERY NEW DEAL IS THAT YOU INCUR FRESH LOSSES! The consent terms have the same pattern. SWA has committed to giving what that Bhagtanis badly need immediately, i.e. withdrawal of FIR and cheque-bouncing cases. In return, Bhagtanis have promised to transfer the title over the potential SRA project land. In fact, the consent terms are similar to the deal struck by Jadugar Diipesh at the amazing Rang Sharda meeting of 16th December 2017, which people later rejected, thereby sending the jadugar to jail.

4) Only SWA can go to court against non-fulfillment of consent terms; not you, the flat-buyer. SWA is controlled by people close to Bhagtanis; so, how will you, Sapphire allottees, force SWA to go to court if you are aggrieved? Even if you are members of the association, you can't force the office-bearers to sue Bhagtanis for non-performance of their side of the deal. So, the consent terms renders you, the Sapphire flat-buyer, completely powerless.

5) SRA slumdwellers are not members of SWA. Bhagtanis are promising to execute the deed of conveyance for the SRA project land in favour of SWA, and then SWA is supposed to take the SRA project forward by inviting bids from other builders. The big questions arising from this are: (a) As the slumdwellers are not signatories to these consent terms, they are not bound by it in any manner. Nobody knows what agreements Bhagtanis have entered with the slumdwellers' association or cooperative society, and what promises Bhagtanis have given to the slumdwellers in return for their consent. On what basis will SWA invite the bids? SWA cannot represent the slumdwellers, who are a necessary party. And the new bidders will not consent to be bound by Bhagtanis possibly-unrealistic promises to the slumdwellers. If Bhagtanis promised slumdwellers the moon and stars, the new builder will not be bound to fulfill those promises. Therefore, there is every likelihood that the whole deal will collapse.

6) All Sapphire allottees are not equal; how to give them justice if Bhagtani is allowed to exit Sapphire project? Some allottees have paid relatively small amounts  to Bhagtanis e.g. Rs 10 lakh, while others  have paid huge amounts, e.g. Rs 90 lakh. In a hypothetical scenario, if a new builder agrees to construct a small flat costing Rs 1 crore for every Sapphire allottee, he can easily do it for allottees who have paid Rs 10 lakhs, because he can demand Rs 90 lakh from them to cover the construction costs and maybe make a small profit. But the new builder will be unwilling to give the same flats to those who had paid Rs 90 lakh to Bhagtani, because he can demand only Rs 10 lakh from them. So, those who have a greater claim will suffer discrimination under SWA's consent terms, whereas those whose claim is the least (e.g. Mr Sambit Roy's Rs 11,000/-) would benefit the most. This arithmetic is also another factor why a satisfactory deal with any new bidder-builder is not doable.

There are many more legal issues with the consent terms -- so many, in fact, that it would be relatively easy to challenge the consent terms in court and have them declared as unenforceable and bad-in-law. 

It appears evident that the main intention in floating this association and filing this suit petition is not to solve the problems of flat-buyers, but to give Bhagtani builders a clean chit and easy exit from the Sapphire project and the civil and criminal liabilities arising from it.

The way forward for Sapphire victims is to seek proper legal advice and take timely legal steps to have the consent terms nullified. Your first step should be to prevent quashing of Sapphire FIR by High Court. Please file a caveat in High Court that if a quashing petition is moved, you should be heard before disposal of the matter.

Krishnaraj Rao

Also read:

Bhagtani Sapphire Consent Terms signed: good or bad omen for victims?