Advocate Mohan Tekawde argued on behalf of Lakhani that the owners had never intended to complete construction. Other flat buyers had been duped too, he argued.
Defending the case, the Mehtas’ lawyer Mallika Ingale contended that Lakhani had ignored several notices demanding payments, after which the agreement was cancelled on October 20, 1999. Ingale added that at best, the case was a civil dispute.
“A criminal prosecution cannot be thwarted merely because civil proceedings are also maintainable,” said Justice Chandiwal. The accused had allegedly demanded a lot more money from the complainants than was reflected in the notices.
Justice Chandiwal also noted that false and fabricated pre-dated documents were created to make a show of bonafides on the part of the accused.
“The 23-storey building was to be completed by May 1999, but wasn’t ready even by the end of 1999… on the contrary, the property was sold in 2000. Even at that stage it was incomplete. The accused had intended to dupe since inception as he knew he would not be able to complete the project,” he concluded.