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The greatest wonders of all time, the tear drop on the cheek of time and the symbol of undying love has been under a lot of controversy recently with a cloud of political clout hovering over it. The magnificent structure built with ivory-white marble, standing tall at 240 feet amidst the city of Agra has been a bone of contention between various religious and political groups alike with regards to it’s origin for a long time now.

It all started with a writ petition that was filed by the late INA freedom fighter known for his Hindu-centric historical revisionism, Purushottam Nagesh Oak in the Supreme Court to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king. The Division Bench of the Supreme Court dismissed Oak’s petition as being ‘misconceived’ and remarked that he had ‘a bee in his bonnet’. The Allahabad High Court dismissed a similar petition in 2005 brought by Amar Nath Mishra, a social worker who claimed that the Taj Mahal was built by the Hindu king Parmar Dev in 1196. From a judicial standpoint, these theories proved futile and as a consequence, could not attract the court’s attention.

In 2014, another theory stirred up when Laxmikant Bajpai, the ex-State President of BJP from Uttar Pradesh claimed that Shah Jahan bought the land from King Jai Singh in order to build the marble mausoleum. According to his theory, a substantial part of Taj Mahal was actually a part of ancient Tejo Mahalaya temple’s land which was purchased by Shah Jahan from King Jai Singh. This was in fact, in retaliation to the demand of Azam Khan, an MLA from Uttar Pradesh to hand over the Taj Mahal to the state waqf board and appoint him as the mutwalli (caretaker). This controversy raises the question, should we pay any heed at all to these alleged theories of Taj Mahal’s origin or just ignore them like any other political tussle?

Tourists walk in front of the historic Taj Mahal in the northern Indian city of Agra July 8, 2007. The Taj Mahal has been chosen as one of the modern day seven wonders of the world. The Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife and is one of the world's most famous monuments. Picture taken July 8, 2007. REUTERS/Brijesh Singh (INDIA)

The latest remarks by Sangeet Som, the MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Sardhana constituency calling Taj Mahal a blot on Indian culture and history and a symbol of slavery that was built by traitors led to another controversy. The denigrate comments disgracing the 17th century marble mausoleum coupled with the omission of one of the seven wonders of the world from the UP tourism booklet listing popular spots in the state garnered a lot of criticism across the country. The chief minister of the state, Yogi Adityanath supposedly supports the view of his fellow party-worker as evident from his comment made in June while on a tour to Bihar stating that Taj Mahal is not a reflection of Indian culture or heritage.

What exactly is the true story behind the origin of Taj Mahal, I suppose, we’ll never know. So why not just sit back and enjoy the majestic structure’s beauty as it is without raising any further questions and preserving the world-renowned monument. It reminds me of the famous quote by Rick Warren, “We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it”. After all, we do celebrate the architectural monuments built during the British Raj without much reluctance, don’t we?

Open Letter to Gautam Chaterjee

07th October, 2017


Shri Gautam Chatterjee,

Hon’ble Chairman,

Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority,
3rd Floor, A-Wing, Slum Rehabilitation Authority,
Administrative Building, Anant Kanekar Marg,
Bandra (E), Mumbai 400 051

Dear Sir,

Sub: Non-Compliance and Non-adherence of RERA 2016 provisions by M/s. Runwal Developers in reference to their project ‘Runwal Elegante’

At the outset, we are in gratitude to you and your team on the immense work already executed under MahaRERA and thus we continue to reiterate our faith in your authority.

We would like to bring to your notice, the unscrupulous and ill-conceived actions by one M/s. Runwal Developers Builders having their registered office at Runwal and Omkar Esquare , 5thFloor, Eastern Express Highway, Sion (East), Mumbai – 400 022, (herein referred to as the ‘said developers’) who has several on-going projects in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra, but is not registering the same under MahaRERA, trying various disguises and camouflage by using words and terminology to his benefit, but which results in grave disadvantage to the innocent flat purchasers, thus defeating the very purpose of MahaRERA .

One of their projects is ‘Runwal Elegante’ registered as P 518 0000 3620           on the MahaRERA website, which actually comprises of Wing A, Wing B and Wing C,  bearing Survey No.41 (Part) and New CTS. No. 620/B , 620/C and 620/D admeasuring 21,023 sq.mtrs situate lying and being at Village Oshiwara, Near Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (West), Mumbai – 400 058  (Herein referred to as “said premise”)

We would like to highlight some of the deceitful methods used by M/s. Runwal Developers to avoid registration of their project and thus cheating and deceiving the flat purchasers, inspite of the implementation of RERA 2016.

(1)         Unscrupulous and deceitful tactics employed to avoid registration of their projects:Even though MahaRERA is active and in force, in Maharashtra, M/s. Runwal Developers is forcing home buyers to take possession in the under- construction ‘said premise’ part of which is still under ‘Part Occupancy Certificate’. This building project is grossly incomplete having hardly any amenities ready, which are promised and agreed upon by the ‘said developers’, under the ‘Registered Agreements’ with flat – purchasers. Thus, the ‘said developer’ is stating white lies by implying that ‘Part Occupancy’ is as good as the completion certificate. By this, the ‘said developer’ is totally avoiding the registration of their full project under MahaRERA.

(2). The ‘said developer’, project, ‘Runwal Elegante’, in Andheri West comprises three Wings A, Wing B and Wing C. But the builder has registered only Wing A, terming it as ‘Tower A’, under MahaRERA, while conveniently showing Wing B and C as ‘Completed projects naming them as ‘Tower B and Tower C’. The ‘said developer’ has used the terms ‘Tower A, Tower B and Tower C instead of ‘Wing A, Wing B and Wing C’ thus clearly mis-leading MahaRERA.

Herein the builder has received ‘Part – Occupancy Certificate for Wing B and Wing C’, and thus using this as an excuse, the builder has registered only Wing A as Tower A, in MahaRERA and not registered Wing B and Wing C.

Once again please note that the builder is using the term ‘Tower’ instead of ‘Wing’ in the MahaRERA website. Hereto annexed and marked as Exhibit A is the copy of the RERA Registration.

(3). Thus the builder is breaking-up the project as ‘Phases’ and not registering the Wing B and Wing C under MahaRERA, while all three wings A , B and C are  actually one and the same building. Hereto annexed and marked as Exhibit B is the copy of the layout which shows common podium, lobby and sky-lounge which interconnects all the three wings. By this deceitful method, he is now stating that he has received ‘Occupation Certificate’, and has released mis-leading advertisements in leading newspapers and hoardings all over Mumbai, saying ‘Full Occupation Received’. Hereto annexed and marked as Exhibit C is the copy of the mis-leading advertisement in Bombay Times dated Saturday July 22, 2017.

(4). Using this, to his advantage, the ‘said developer’ is issuing letters to the innocent and helpless flat- purchasers saying that he has received ‘Occupation Certificate’ and that the flat- purchasers should take possession for fit-outs, habitation etc. and should therefore pay the balance amount under  consideration as per the ‘Registered Agreements’, between the ‘said developer’ and flat – purchasers.

This clearly exposes the wrongful methods employed by the ‘said developer’, and imposing undue pressure and duress onto the flat – purchaser to pay the full 100% of the consideration.

(5). Thus the Builder is clearly confusing flat purchasers and MahaRERA by assuming and considering Part Occupancy as Completion certificate and this avoiding the Registration of the building project altogether, and at the same time pressurizing the flat purchasers to pay additional money in a project which is nowhere near completion.

Thus, it is very clear that the ‘said developer’ has not received the Full Occupation Certificate and he has also not registered the project under MahaRERA.

(6). We hereby request you to make note of some exemplary Laws:


(4) The promoter shall— (b) be responsible to obtain the completion certificate or the occupancy certificate, or both, as applicable, from the relevant competent authority as per local laws or other laws for the time being in force and to make it available to the allottees individually or to the association of allottees, as the case may be; there is no provision of part OC in RERA 


(zd) "Member" means the member of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority appointed under section 21 and includes the Chairperson;

(ze) "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette and the expression "notify" shall be construed accordingly;

(zf) "occupancy certificate" means the occupancy certificate, or such other certificate by whatever name called, issued by the competent authority permitting occupation of any building, as provided under local laws, which has provision for civic infrastructure such as water, sanitation and electricity; ​

Thus the ‘said developer’, is clearly sticking to his bad old ways, even though MahaRERA makes it mandatory for him to register all under construction and ongoing projects’

(7). The ‘said developer’ is pressurizing the flat purchasers to pay the balance consideration amount, threatening them about ‘terminating their registered agreements and in many cases even ‘terminating the registered agreements’. By making false statements, releasing mis-leading advertisements, hiding crucial facts the ‘said developer’ is thus creating gross criminal and civil offences.

(8). Mr. Chatterjee, please take immediate cognizance of this dishonest and deceitful developer M/s. Runwal Developers, who is taking undue advantage of words and terms and thus confusing the MahaRERA authorities, flat- purchasers and the general public at large and acting against several provisions of MahaRERA and other laws in force.

We request you to take prompt, stringent and immediate action, investigate the matter and penalize M/s. Runwal Develoeprs.

Your actions always speak louder than your words and it’s time the builder lobby heard this especially Ms/ Runwal Developers, and complied with the MahaRERA provisions which are mandatory and compulsory.

Yours sincerely,

Sulaiman Bhimani

President Citizens Justice Forum
RTI and Human Rights Activist
93236 42081

Most of the home buyers and investors in Bhagtani Sapphire Project in Dahisar East  have purchased at the rate of Rs.6000/- to Rs 6500/- current market price in the same vicinity is Rs 10.500/- to Rs 11.000/- and most of them have paid Bhagtani in cash and cheque, if you approach RERA Authority it will be difficult to prove the cash amount transaction and RERA will give relief based on cheque amount. The relief will be interest 10% per anum and compensation for delayed period of possession which will not be a good deal. If more aggrieved home buyers come together then to approach NCDRC is a good strategy as builder will be forced to pay as per current market price click the link below for similar case where builder was forced to pay the home buyer as per current market price 

The best part is court order the builder to pay the difference of amount between booking price and current market price.

Here is the excerpt of the judgement

"It would thus be seen that the minimum price of a residential flat in Bandra (West), as per the documentary evidence produced by the complainants, is Rs.65,000/- per sq. ft. of the carpet area. Computed at the said rate, the estimated current market value of the flat allotted by the OPs to the complainants comes to Rs.5,38,46,000/-. As per the quotations received by the complainants, the price of one car parking is Rs.20,00,000/-. If the aforesaid amount is added to the estimated price of the flat, the resultant price comes to Rs. 5,58,46,000/-. Since the OPs allotted the flat to the complainants at the aggregate price of Rs.1.93 crores, they are required to pay the difference between the current estimated price and the price on which the flat was allotted to them i.e. Rs. 3,65,46,000/- as compensation to the complainants. As noted earlier, the alleged cash payment of Rs.67 lacs has not been denied in the written version filed by the OPs. The complainants have placed on record a kachha copy which according to them is signed by one Hanif Hingora, who at the relevant time, was a partner of OP No.1. The total amount paid by them comes to Rs. 1.93 crores."

Sulaiman Bhimani Legal Consultant 
President Citizens Justice Forum

This will be a short post of mostly relief. Modi planning to address the country has become a cause for some alarm and ridicule. Absurd tags were doing the round for days before today "guessing" what the Prime Minister would announce today. Turned out to be something of a damp squib. Thankfully. I don't think the country can take any more of his surgical strikes.

To make a long story short, he reannounced a failed goal from 2016 as a wholly new idea called "Saubhagya" - where all homes in India get electricity by December 2018. Earlier in 2016, Piyush Goyal had assured us of electricity for all by May 2017. Now five months after missing that deadline, we are assured of the same thing by December 2018. That is all. At this point, the failure of the government to achieve one goal being repackaged as a bright new idea that will transform India is not going to shock anyone.

If it were any other government, I suppose this would be met with scorn, but I suppose there is no point expecting anything useful out of this government and we must see this announcement as a positive thing - our incomes or savings have taken no new hit, no lives are going to be disrupted or lost as a result of this announcement and it doesn't seem to be likely to result in economic catastrophe. No violence against dissenters is likely to be triggered by this announcement. The gullible hordes have been spared their own unquestioning folly. I suppose it is time to call it a narrow miss from a surgical strike and get on with the business of surviving the less than two years that remain of this spectacularly useless government.

We've been seeing this phenomenon all through since the 2014 Lok Sabha election that swept the BJP to power in India. Assorted supporters of Modi and BJP backing off warily as individuals or in groups as they realize that the trailer and the film have little in common. And of course there are those like me, who insist that this is one blame that cannot be laid at BJP's feet, because the trailer and the film are exactly the same, except that those "discovering now" have now been removed from the ranks of the protected and added to the ranks of the disenfranchised. And that appears to have made all the difference.

These people come in a few broad categories of regret:

Organizations with an agenda

Every large collective that could be exploited for votes was tapped into by the BJP. From affiliates of its parent RSS to criminal godmen with profits to make or crimes needing impunity. From rights groups to identity struggles and across ideologies. With overt deals for support or subtle manipulation. And one by one they have been waking up to the disaster that this government is. Many business houses are staring at the economy in disbelief today. Surely they will be assessing who they fund next.

One feels pity for the likes of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan, who literally blew away five years worth rights for farmers because they were fooled by pretty promises and didn't look to actually verify claims. They have had brutal awakenings with the collapse of the agrarian economy. First the cattle slaughter ban decimating their investments in cattle, then the demonetisation decimating their income and crippling investment into the new crop cycle and finally the GST - which very few understand, but which is severely restricting the MSME. Going from threatening to tie cattle outside BJP offices over the cattle slaughter ban to writing bitter articles about malpractices and raging farmer protests, SSS is basically doomed to a limbo till the next elections and yes, very definitely out of love. Similar scams have played across other collectives of people and this includes RSS organizations like the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, reined in for long from protesting exploitative labour laws, declining jobs and the demonetisation. The RSS has wisely given them permission to protest against the BJP - likely so that they can be told to shut up when it is time for elections again.

Then of course there are the likes of Ram Rahim. Facilitated in every effort to escape accountability to the point of allowing a build up of violent protesters to intimidate the Court from an unfavorable verdict and flown out by helicopter after being convicted! It came as no surprise to anyone that Ram Rahim's sudden departure from remaining apolitical to endorsing BJP openly had come with an understanding of cases against him being dropped. Regardless, with the discovery of 600 skeletons from Dera Saccha Sauda, it is pretty much understood that he will spend the rest of his life in jail or graduate to the Parliament. Needless to say, his supporters are unlikely to vote for the BJP again either.

For profit organizations

With the Congress failing, BJP had made it abundantly clear that you were either with them or against them and those with them would prosper. The likes of Ramdev went on to build empires and gained favorable government actions, land and more - and he isn't going to ditch BJP in a hurry. The rest were dreaming of bonanzas, but are left staring at their own balance sheets as the economy slows and all kinds of dubious gamechangers helicopter in.

And I'll include corporate media here. As the propaganda for the next election starts warming up, several channels that could see nothing but good in the BJP and nothing but evil in the Congress have suddenly returned to journalistic integrity. Hatchet jobs on BJP opponents are off non-BJP channels now. Which should not be understood as the profession finding ethics, but a more likely answer being closer to wallets - the expected bonanza for the corporate media did not materialize, while their journalists were systematically stripped of dignity. Where as recently as last year, journalists thrashed by BJP goons on court premises held silent marches in support of themselves, but the TV screens remained loyal to the autocracy, today the non-BJP media is merrily erupting into criticism of the very same things it was not able to see for the last five years.

Because BJP's considerable ad revenue not withstanding, corporate media is a business and there is no such thing as a business doing well in India these days - unless you're Alibaba. Mobile wallets celebrated a bonanza for a few months and will likely hit a worse situation now as cash returns. The smart ones converted to payments banks. The rest will likely be left scratching their heads wondering what happened like everyone else. Corporate media runs on advertising revenue. Arnab lying without consequence to the public is no longer half as funny as outright hate mongering would have been a short year ago. There is trouble in the cowshed. Media is back to being BJP affiliated media or up for grabs and the twain don't meet right now. And they won't, unless BJP bankrupts its own mouthpieces, or fixes the economy. The ones roped in by their wallets are off seeking their fortune in greener pastures. Both being unlikely, the coming election is likely going to be bipolar with "reality" depending on what channel you are watching.

The economic right wing

If the political right is about majoritarian might being right and under the bus with the rest in the social sphere, the economic "right" (also known as "pro-capitalism") is about prpfits being right and under the bus with the rest. THe two converged smoothly under the BJP govt with the upper caste and upper class providing a hinge that was in common with both for the most part. It is inherently a perspective that lacks egalitarian ethics and was ripe for the plucking when it came to exploiting for votes. Disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities seduced religious supremacists, while deprivation of economically vulnerable gave the pro-profits a high. The mentality is the same - rob the less powerful and distribute among the powerful for instant high of prosperity and power combined with contrast with those lower sinking further. Sadly, it is one thing to disenfranchise the poor and quite another to disenfranchise the profiteers. Honeymoon there was over the minute the economy gods stopped smiling. So people who didn't really see a problem with BJP's extremely disturbing relationship with fascism and made utopian proclamations along the lines of "shaadi ho jayegi to apne aap jimmedar ban jayenge" are now suddenly realizing that communalism is an unacceptable thing after all. Because they can hardly whine about losses to big business when people dying in queues didn't make them blink.

Those who overlooked the sheer number of hate mongers supporting Modi, because it would help bring the "pro-business" to power are now scandalized that the hate mongers voted Modi for hate and not economy. Somehow they hadn't paused to analyze whether the collapse of law and order and decisions by people turning "intellectual" into an insult would help or harm economy. It was one thing to believe that a few dead people and impoverished people-not-like-us were an acceptable price for getting the perfect environment where the free market could ride into the sunset on a swastika. It was quite another thing for the promised free market to not materialize. The GDP was a final slap to their gullibility - for those who still hadn't been repulsed by the economic slaughterhouse that the demonetisation was (many believed it hurt only the poor and not so much the cashless, till corporate profits dropped - people dying in queues was regrettable necessity - economic slowdown was sin). Now they realize the cost. They condemn the damage done to country. Regardless, claimed ethics aside, the bottom line is that they no longer believe the BJP can do anything useful for the economy, or they'd have been fine with a genocide or five too. Today, even Rupa Subramanian of all people admired Rahul Gandhi's speech - of all things. It doesn't get any more "game over, BJP" than that.

The gullibles

These are, quite simply idealistic but lazy fools, who want good things to happen and are content to endorse someone to deliver it without oversight and consider their duty done. They are busy and are quite happy to leave the details to someone who has a good ad. As the propaganda fog wears thin, they are waking up from their zombie like complacency to realize that their ideals that they trusted BJP to enact are not actually being acted on and are all upset in the manner one rants at customer support - when in reality they have been scammed for their votes and influence, not just been provided bad service to.

This class of gullibles also includes various activists who served as useful fools for BJP objectives - sometimes even when they are ideologically opposed to BJP. Feminists, for example were used to bring down credibility of Sheila Dixit government first and then the ethics of the entire left with a series of trials by media of anti-BJP public figures accused of abusing women, anti-Aadhaar activists were used to discredit UPA2 on Aadhaar or Muslim reformers challenging Triple Talak to discredit Islam or the skillful inflaming and use of Tamil nationalist sentiments on Jallikattu to disrupt and control Tamil politics, even as protesters thought they were rejecting BJP. This was basically the skilful magnification of selectively chosen causes to bring down opponents while not caring about those causes in the least. This continues today, because Social Media idealists are a lazy lot, given to exhibitions of ethics more than analysis of social realities and independent conclusions and actions. It is easier to trend a tag provided and be "neutral" by criticizing "even their own" without noticing that there never is a tag for all the rapists in the Parliament - including those defending a convicted Ram Rahim - for example. Useful fools, they are called and in my view, such activists do more harm than good by reducing important struggles to political tools.

It would be ironic that the left or parties that have come up on the basis of activism can't engage activists in protest like the BJP - except it isn't ironic, because BJP is the only party that actually systematically targeted various activists to leverage their influence and use them as fronts instead of making statements as themselves. This is how it was from the start when the Hindutva brigade learned at the lap of the Zionists on how to use rationalists and atheists to discredit Islam - the good old Orkut days. Indian atheists rarely fall for this selective incentive for criticism anymore (Taslima Nasreen and Tarek Fatah are not Indian).

When own tail is on fire

And then there is the sort of BJP supporters who are fine with BJP till they become the victims. In many ways, this already includes the organizations that are backing off and the oracles of the free market, but it also includes several individual cases like Dr. Jwala, who got disenchanted when she accused Tajinder Bagga of harassment and instead of finding support, found herself unfollowed by a Prime Minister who allegedly doesn't unfollow people, while Tajinder Bagga got appointed as spokesperson of the party. It includes the three office bearers of ABVP in JNU who resigned. Now ABVP has been up to a lot of shit in JNU, but it took demands for JNU to be shut down and their own education to be imperilled for them to realize that the BJP stand was wrong. Target minorities, undermine institutions, frame people, violent protests and all is fine. But such a terrible college must not be shut down, because their degree gets into trouble then. Cue ethics.


Now it remains to be seen how BJP makes a play for credibility once more to con people for 2019 and how many of these gullibles fall straight back into their laps once the light and sound show begins.