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Press Release

The Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has directed developer to give an undertaking that the firm will cover any losses suffered by five home buyers, who got refund orders for delayed possession last month, till the filing of an appeal with the appellate tribunal.

On September 27, 2018, MahaRERA had ordered the developer to refund the investments of five home buyers – Rahul Bhosale, Hitesh Shah, Riyaz Jetham, Alistair Gomes and Sachin Kadam – who had booked flats in Acropolis project in Virar through a subvention scheme in which buyers paid eight per cent of the flat consideration and the banks paid the remaining 92 per cent. The order was to be executed by the developer within 30 days from the date of the order.

The subvention scheme itself is a very big scam, in this scheme the builder gets almost 95% of the loan amount on signing of the agreement without laying a brick, unlike regular home loan where the bank pays to the builder as per progress of the work, the builder lures the home buyers on promise to pay EMI till he hands over the possession, but when builder fails to construct or give possession on time the liabilities comes on the home buyer and the home buyers becomes defaulter and not the builder, in subvention scheme builder charges 10% more then the market value which the buyer realises on the later stage, subvention scheme is design to cheat home buyers.

The developer approached MahaRERA again on October 11 and got a stay on the order till October 24. On October 24, the matter was heard again, and the developer sought extension of stay on the execution of the judgment till the end of 60-day appeal period, citing financial crunch to pay the decretal amount that needs to be paid before the Maharashtra Real Estate Appellate Tribunal.

According to Section 43 of RERA, the appellant has to deposit 50 per cent of the amount with the tribunal before the appeal can be heard.

During the hearing before MahaRERA member Madhav Kulkarni, Sulaiman Bhimani, who appeared for the home buyers, strongly opposed the stay petition arguing that home buyers will suffer monetary losses since they had purchased the flats with bank loans and are paying EMIs. He argued that Rahul Bhosale, who had taken two bank loans, had received a foreclosure letter from the bank stating that if dues are paid before a cut-off date, he will get a concession of Rs seven lakh. He argued that home buyers will suffer immediate losses if the stay is extended.

Kulkarni then directed the developer to file an undertaking to make good any losses suffered by the home buyers till the end of the 60-day appeal period which ends on November 26. The stay was granted after developer complied with the undertaking.

Sulaiman Bhimani Legal Consultant
Expert RERA & Co-operative Scty Matters
Human and Civil Rights Activist
President Citizens Justice Forum 
9323642081
Sulaimanbhimani11@gmail.com

A prominent builder filed a civil suit against my activist colleague Krish for publishing articles against the builder. Here's what Krish says about the suit:

Last weekend, I was served notice of a Civil Suit filed against myself and one more person (Mr Vineet Malik) by Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt. Ltd, ("Plaintiff"). In this present article, I intend to analyze the infirmities of (a) the civil suit no 36 of 2017 in Vasai Civil Court, (b) the temporary injunction passed by this court against me, and (c) the gag order sought against me under "Order 39 Rule 2A of CPC".
I believe that no law prevents me -- as a journalist, a citizen and a defendant -- from publicly analyzing the legal merits of a suit filed against me, and the legal merits of a temporary injunction that seeks to muzzle me without giving me notice and an opportunity to be heard. Not only is my Right To Freedom of Speech protected by the Constitution, but also, my Fundamental Duties urge me "to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform".
I consider it my duty as a journalist and a citizen to be rigid and unyielding on such points of principle. Hence, I have analysed the civil suit here:
Analysis of Ekta Builder's Civil Suit Against Me

8th May, 2017: Last week, I was served with notice of a Civil Suit filed against myself and one more person (Mr Vineet Malik) by Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt. Ltd, ("Plaintiff"). This civil suit filed in Vasai Civil Court attempts to gain the court's sympathy by mixing up several unrelated matters, and wrongly invokes the court's territorial jurisdiction to pass temporary injunction against Mr Malik ("Defendent no. 1") and myself ("Defendant no. 2"), in order to suppress certain truths about Ekta's way of doing business from becoming known to a wider public.
In this present article, I intend to analyze the infirmities of (a) the civil suit no 36 of 2017 in Vasai Civil Court, (b) the temporary injunction passed by this court against me, and (c) the gag order sought against me under "Order 39 Rule 2A of CPC". I sincerely believe that no law prevents me -- as a journalist, a citizen and a defendant -- from publicly analyzing the legal merits of a suit filed against me, and the legal merits of a temporary injunction that seeks to muzzle me without giving me notice and an opportunity to be heard. Not only is my Right To Freedom of Speech protected by the Constitution, but also, my Fundamental Duties urge me "to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform". I consider it my duty as a journalist and a citizen to be rigid and unyielding on such points of principle.
Click here to read the CIVIL SUIT NOTICE sent to me by Ekta builders and later, the court bailiff.
One may ask why I am named as defendant no. 2 in this suit which is primarily between a builder and a flat purchaser. The short answer is: because I wrote the below articles about this particular flat-purchase deal, published them on my blog and also issued them as press releases:
(a) Ekta Builder: Broken Promises & Bhai-giri
(b) Delayed Ekta Parksville: Builder offers full refund plus 9% interest but...
In the words of the plaintiff, according to paragraph no. 54 (page 25) of the civil suit, "the cause of action to file this suit arose for the first time when Plaintiff on 3rd December, 2016 accepted the offer of Defendant No. 1 to terminate the Agreement dated 30/05/2016..., secondly it arose when the Defendant No. 1 failed to accept the refund amount and to execute and register a Deed of cancellation of Agreement... It arose thirdly on _________ when the Defendants published defamatory article for the first time, and lastly on _________ when the Defendants again published 2nd defamatory article. It is continuous cause of action..."
DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS SUIT & ORDER:
  1. As you can see from this Causelist, this civil suit is filed under Specific Relief Act 1963, Section 34 and 38. A plain reading of this Act and the relevant sections shows that the only purpose of this Act is the enforcement of contractual obligations. As a journalist writing articles, I have no contractual obligations to the builder ("plaintiff") who has filed this suit. The plaintiff has a contractual dispute with Mr Vineet Malik, and the subject of the dispute is the "suit flat". On page 3 of the civil suit , under the head, "Description of suit property", what is mentioned is "Flat bearing No. 1104 admeasuring approximately 35.60 square metres... in the phase known as Brooklyn Park in the complex known as Ekta Parksville... hereinafter referred to as the "suit flat")". Hence, there is no justification for my inclusion in this suit under the Specific Relief Act, as I have nothing to do with the suit flat, which is the subject of the said suit. I am wrongly and malafidely named in this civil suit. My inclusion is a misjoinder.
  2. Ekta builder ("The Plaintiff") states in paragraph no. 43 that he is "entitled to claim compensation and damages from the Defendants... The plaintiff has suffered monetary loss to the extent of Rs One Hundred Crore... as a result of false and negative public campaign undertaken by the Defendant No. 2 at the behest and in connivance with the Defendant no. 1". If this is so, then Ekta builder is required to provide some proof as to why my writings are "false" and also how he has calculated this grand figure of Rs 100 crore. However, the builder provides no coherent arguments or proofs to substantiate his claims, but he prays for the sweeping reliefs that the court should "Hold and declare that the Defendants have defamed the Plaintiff" (paragraph e on page 27), and seeks a permanent injunction restraining me from publishing anything about any of the Ekta concerns (paragraph h on page 28), besides of course, my paying him damages of Rs 100 crore jointly and collectively with Mr Malik.
  3. Nearly two months BEFORE this notice was served to me, the plaintiff's advocate Avinash Vidwans informed me by email that "Sir, The Hon'ble Civil Judge (S.D.) at Vasai was pleased to pass following Order in Special Civil Suit No. 36 of 2017 , wherein you are Defendant No. 2.: ORDER Heard Ld. Adv. Mr. Vidwans for Plaintiff.  Ld. Adv. Ms. Sheetal Pandya appears for Def.No.1 in pursuance of email notice sent to her by the Plaintiff.  She has placed on record an undertaking at Exh.10 to not to publish any defamatory material against the Plaintiff till next date. Ld. Advocate for Plaintiff has relied upon certain e-mails sent by Defendant No.2 in reply to Plaintiff’s mail thereby indicating that the Defendant No.2 will regardless of any matter sub-judice proceed to publish two alleged stories against the Plaintiff.  It is argued that the Defendant No.2 has made up his mind against the Plaintiff in a prejudiced and biased manner.  The e-mails are self-speaking.  Hence, it is deemed fit to temporarily restrain the Defendant No.2 from making any such publication which may contain any defamatory material against the Plaintiff till next date or till he appears on the next regular scheduled date. The Plaintiff has made out an urgency and hence it is desirable that the triable issue be set at rest through the intervention of the Court. Plaintiff to communicate the Order to Defendant No.2 and also to effect service of suit summons upon him, if not done earlier."
    Here are my views regarding the legality of the above quoted order: 
    (a) Freedom of Speech and the freedom of Press cannot be so lightly trampled by a mere Civil Judge. My legal commonsense says that every Civil Court cannot enjoy the necessary jurisdiction to pass such such a weighty order, which is a blanket gag nullifying a fundamental right. Only the High Court can have such a jurisdiction.
    (b) Even assuming Vasai Civil Court has the necessary territorial jurisdiction, such an order cannot be passed so lightly, without serving proper notice and without giving defendants an opportunity to be heard. Such a weighty order cannot be passed based on printouts of emails produced by the plaintiff, without even seeking to verify from me whether it is true or not!
    (c) The suit has been filed, but it has not yet been admitted by the court. It cannot be automatically admitted, without seeking answers to crucial questions about where exactly the dispute and the cause of action arose, determining the territorial jurisdiction of the court, etc. Not even a single proper hearing has happened for establishing the jurisdiction of this court, and whether the parties named in it are correctly imp-leaded. If a gag order can be passed at such a preliminary stage by a Civil Judge, then the mass media and social media throughout the country can be brought to a grinding halt by every Tom, Dick and Harry seeking such temporary injunctions.
    (d) If journalists start getting muzzled so lightly with so little due process, then it will cause grievous injury to our nation, as all kinds of blanket muzzling orders will be sought by wrongdoers. For me, journalism is a calling, a way of life, and not just a way of earning my daily bread. I cannot, in good conscience, bring myself to obey such an badly-formed judicial order.
  4. This suit that Ekta has filed is not a defamation suit; it is a mixed-up and confused suit. This suit is under the "Specific Relief Act" for performance of contractual duties, and it does not argue even one point as to why my writings are defamatory; it only relies on the bland assertion that whatever I have written is defamatory and derogatory. I would invite the builder to file a proper defamation suit against me, wherein the exact material that I have published would have to be closely examined in court. Let us stop being vague and get into the particulars of my so-called defamation. In a civil defamation suit, I would be given ample opportunity to prove that each and every one of my statements is true and based on facts and documents, and also that my writings are intended to warn and protect the public against exploitation by a builder. I want to be given that opportunity.
  5. Non-applicability of Plaintiff's Application under Order 39 Rule 2A of CPC to my case: Let us understand what is this Order 39 Rule 2A of Civil Procedure Code. Cases in which temporary injunction may be granted.
    "1.Where in any suit it is proved by affidavit or otherwise-
    (a) that any property in dispute in a suit is in danger of being wasted, damaged or alienated by any party to the suit, or wrongfully sold in execution of a decree, or
    (b) that the defendant threatens, or intends, to remove or dispose of his property with a view to [defrauding] his creditors,
    [(c) that the defendant threatens to dispossess, the plaintiff or otherwise cause injury to the plaintiff in relation to any property in dispute in the suit,]
    the Court may be order grant a temporary injunction to restrain such act, or make such other order for the purpose of staying and preventing the wasting, damaging, alienation, sale, removal or disposition of the property [or dispossession of the plaintiff, or otherwise causing injury to the plaintiff in relation to any property in dispute in the suit] as the Court thinks fit, until the disposal of the suit or until further orders."

    In short, temporary Injunction under Order 39 Rule 2A of CPC is for protecting contractual obligations or interests in a suit relating to a disputed property. Can this rule be invoked for muzzling a journalist who has no contractual ties with the plaintiff? I seriously doubt it.

    WHY THIS SUIT IS MALA-FIDE:

  • This civil suit is a hotchpotch of three distinct kinds of civil suits that cannot be mixed.  This civil suit attempts to blur the clear lines between a suit for: (a) enforcement of a contract between two parties (b) resolving a dispute (c) seeking damages for defamation  and resultant loss of business, and seeking legal protection from further defamation.
  • This civil suit creates a false narrative that a huge complicated contractual relationship exists between Mr Malik and Ekta.The fact of the matter is, their contractual relationship is simple -- that of a flat-purchaser with a builder who failed to honour his contractual obligation to give timely possession of a flat in Virar, complete with Occupation Certificate.  Everything else is just hot air.
  • The suit seeks to divert attention from the fact that the terms of cancellation offered by the builder were rejected by Mr Malik, and, as the original Flat Purchase Agreement has yet not been cancelled, this agreement is the only one that is enforceable by law, and the builder is in breach of it. This civil suit tries to abuse the court mechanism to force Mr Malik, virtually at gun-point, to accept the builder's terms for cancellation of the flat-purchase agreement, by which he is currently bound.
  • Although this is a suit filed under Specific Relief Act, the plaintiff (Ekta) does not specifically name any existing contract that he wants enforced through the court. Ekta implies several obligations of the defendants to himself, without actually specifying which contract confers such obligationss. The current civil suit is therefore, in a nutshell, malafide, frivolous, vexatious and deserving of being dismissed at the admission stage itself, with costs if possible.
Can writing and publishing this present article be considered as Contempt of Court – whether Civil or Criminal? Can it be considered defamatory? Can it be considered a violation of the temporary injunction of the Civil Court? I would very much like the builder to present this before the Hon'ble Civil Judge, and I would invite the learned Judge to apply his judicial mind to every word of this article. If the Hon'ble Civil Court, in its great wisdom, feels that this constitutes Defamation, Contempt etc., I will be quite happy to stand trial for it.
DISCLAIMER: I am writing this as an independent journalist and blogger, on my own behalf. I am NOT upholding Mr Vineet Malik's case, and I don't care what stand he or his defense lawyers choose to take. I haven't earned a paisa from Mr Malik, and I have no personal interest in his business dealings with Ekta or anyone else. Nor do I have any personal enmity and ill-will towards Ekta builders. At the core of this present article is my burning curiosity to find out whether freedom of speech is really protected in our beloved country, or whether such protection is lightly cast aside by frivolous civil suits and temporary injunctions without so much as a notice, let alone a hearing.
ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST
Krishnaraj Rao

9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

 
POSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081

Thursday, April 27, 2017
By Raju Vernekar
An FIR (90/2017) has been lodged at Bandra's Kherwadi Police station, against a developer on charges of delaying redevelopment of buildings located at Kole Kalyan, Kalina in Santacruz (East) and keeping 67 allottees on tenterhooks for nearly a decade despite collecting nearly Rs 87 crore from them towards the cost of the flats.
The FIR was lodged on April 19, 2017 by Police Sub Inspector Jashri Sangle, based on the complaint of a 72-year-old allottee Clifford Menezes, against the directors of RNA Corp Pvt Ltd; Anubhav Agarwal, Gokul Agarwal, Sarang Agarwal and others. Sections 403, 420, 34 of the IPC and the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) have been leveled against the accused. The FIR says that the accused collected Rs 87,11,53,540 from 67 allottees but failed to give possession of flats, for nearly a decade. The FIR was subsequently transferred to the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police for further investigation.

When contacted, Assistant Police Inspector (API) Vikrant Shirsat of EOW told The Afternoon D&C that more FIRs are likely to be filed against the accused and no one will be spared. At present we are conducting a thorough inquiry into the matter, he added.
According to documents made available by RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani, the developer agreed to redevelop Sunder Nagar Co-op. Society, Siddhesh Co-op Hsg Spociety, Matoshri Co-op Hsg Society and Kamkar Chawl located on plots (City survey No. 4853,4853/1 to 85, 87 and 88) totally ad measuring 14,956.41 square mtrs located in Kalina.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s building proposal issued IOD (Intimation of Disapproval) under section 346 of the BMC Act on September 7, 2006, and subsequently issued a commencement certificate on March 30, 2007, to the developer. Despite all the clearances, no construction was started in time.
The proposed composite project was titled as 'RNA Address' which was supposed to have 7 buildings with an area of 57,4945 sq. ft. comprising 294 premium apartments of 2 BHK, 3 BHK and other configurations. The total sales value of RNA Address was estimated at Rs 1,009 crore of which the developer sold units worth Rs 360.35 crore.
Yet the developer issued letters of allotment to the allottees, towards purchase of the flats. The allottees made payments ranging between 20% to 60% of the total purchase, based on the reminders of the developer. Besides the tripartite agreements were also executed and entered into between the allottees, the developer and the State Bank of India(SBI). In terms of the agreements, SBI sanctioned stipulated loan amounts in favour of individual allottees based on the guarantee provided by the developer in favor of SBI. The developer agreed to obtain the necessary permissions and register the ownership agreements, within twelve months of signing the agreement.
On May 11, 2012, the developer communicated to the allottees, that due to certain amendments in the Development Control Regulations of the BMC, the number of floors of 'RNA Address' have been reduced to 13 from earlier 15. As such the payment schedule stands revised.
In March 2013, the developer told the allottees that the third slab had been completed, but since the approval was obtained only for the construction up to the third slab, the work would remain suspended till additional approvals were obtained from the BMC.
Then on March 30, 2016, the developer obtained a fresh NOC from the Mumbai board of MHADA to commence work but again kept the work pending. When some of the allottees inquired with MHADA and the BMC about the delay, they were surprised to find out that since the developer did not make required payment, the approvals were held up.
As of now there is a plinth plus three storey structure in an absolute wretched condition at the site. Now some of the allottees have also submitted a petition to the National Consumer Redressal Forum, seeking justice. Repeated attempts to get version of the developer failed since RNA’s supposedly 'Corporate communication team' went on dodging the issue.

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081

Friday, 9 December 2016

Delayed Ekta Parksville: Builder offers full refund plus 9% interest

Mumbai, 9th December 2016: Vineet Malik, a flat-buyer in Ekta Parksville aggrieved by the interminable delay in project completion and occupation certificate, received a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago. Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt Ltd sent him a letter that agreed to cancel the deal and refund the entire amount paid by him – Rs 25.24 lakhs – and additionally, interest of 9%. The total amount that Ekta World offered to pay is Rs 34.57 lakhs.
This letter was received in the wake of patient exchange of correspondence and meetings by Vineet Malik with CMD Ashok Mohanani, plus mainstream media and social media coverage (especially our blog) and also my and Sulaiman Bhimani's meeting and negotiation with the builder's men on Vineet Malik's behalf.
Ekta World's letter dated 3rd December 2016 proposed interest payment of Rs 9.32 lakhs to Vineet Malik.
At first, this seemed like an extremely generous offer, and any aggrieved buyer should be thrilled by this success! But let us examine the issue a bit more closely. After a delay of more than three years (and counting) in delivering the agreed flat in the Virar project, Ekta World is, "as a goodwill gesture" agreeing to pay back the paid amount plus 9% interest. This rate of interest is no more than what he would have had to pay for a project loan.
On the other hand, what is the penalty and interest that the buyer would have to pay Ekta World if he had slipped up in paying up his installments on time? Read this excerpt from the one-sided Registered Agreement.
The agreement states Ekta World can terminate the contract after giving the helpless buyer only seven days notice, if he slipped up in paying even one installment! Not only that, he would further forfeit 20% of the total consideration i.e. Rs 5.2 lakhs. Read this excerpt from the agreement.
Further, in case the builder chose not to terminate the contract unilaterally, the interest payable by the buyer for the delayed payment would be 24%. Read this excerpt.
So, 24% interest from buyer, 9% interest from builder. Does that sound fair? Vineet Malik doesn't think so.
Therefore, this feisty investor is turning down Ekta World's generous offer of interest of Rs 9.32 lakhs for five years. He will continue fighting for his just and equitable dues i.e. 24% interest on the refunded amount.
Issued in Public Interest by
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com
Posted By
Sulaiman Bhilani
9323642081