Famous developer's partners turn foes in deal gone sour
Well-known developer seeks anticipatory bail from court after former partner lodges complaint of cheating against him, accusing him of forging his power of attorney
ET tu, Brute? The question is whether that question can be asked in this case. A power of attorney and deed of retirement allegedly registered two decades ago with the sub-registrar office in Vasai are being contested in the sessions court of Mumbai, where a builder has moved an anticipatory bail plea.
Manek Mehta, a resident of South Mumbai, has been accused of cheating by his erstwhile partner Bhadresh Shah, a resident of Gamdevi, who has lodged a complaint with the General Cheating Wing of EOW, accusing Mehta of forging his power of attorney and selling his right over multiple acres of plot in Vasai to the tune of over Rs 34 crore.
While Mehta secured conditional interim relief from the sessions court on September 21, the anticipatory bail plea will come up for hearing on October 8.
Shah said he and Mehta had started a firm - M/s Poonam Nami Agro Developers - in the 1990s, purchasing several plots in and around Vasai. Shah claimed that he had gone out of the country for several years owing to business and personal reasons, and that when he returned in 2015, he found Mehta had sold several properties belonging to the company by virtue of power of attorney, which he (Shah) didn't sign.
In his complaint, Shah has cited a property bearing survey no. 177 and situated at Poman village, Vasai, registered with sub-registrar Vasai-5 and allegedly sold on the basis of a forged power of attorney.
Furthermore, in spite of a written objection by the complainant against the sale of another property in Vasai, Mehta allegedly sold it on July 26, 2016. Another land bearing survey no. 180 was subdivided into smaller plots, and one Prakash Dhanavade had executed more than 40 sale deeds using unregistered power of attorney allegedly given to him by Mehta.
All this came to light when Shah went through the list of properties at the sub-registrar's office. Shah has accused Mehta of executing more such deals.
Sources said EOW's preliminary investigation has revealed that the power of attorney in question and the one submitted by the accused have discrepancies, which are being probed.
"The documents Shah produced might be just the tip of the iceberg, and more skeletons may fall from the closet as the investigation proceeds. A lot is under investigation - the account of registered documents, money trail and those involved in the alleged crime," said a source.
Inspector Dhiraj Bhalerao of EOW's General Cheating Wing had highlighted 10 grounds in his five-page note submitted in the sessions court to oppose Mehta's anticipatory bail. While he refused to speak, a senior police officer supervising the investigation, said, "Law will take its due course."
The other side
Mehta's counsel, advocate Yusuf Iqbal Yusuf said, "This is a fabricated and frivolous allegation against my client. The fact remains that the complainant had himself signed and registered the said documents in the sub-registrar office in Vasai, and the same is in their records. The complaint has been lodged with the malafide intention to tarnish the image and reputation of my client, who is a well-known builder.
"Had there been any merit in the allegations, the additional sessions judge would not have granted ad interim relief to my client."
The additional sessions judge, while passing Mehta's ad interim anticipatory bail, stated that as the parties submitted that they need substantial time for arguments, and the intervener appeared through his advocate, who submitted that he would file a say within two weeks, and also because no immediate need for custodial interrogation was made out, ad interim anticipatory bail can be granted to the applicant.
In the event of arrest, the applicant should be released on personal bond and surety bond of Rs 25,000 till disposal of the main application, subject to condition that he not tamper with the prosecution witnesses and evidence, and attend the office of the investigating officer as and when summoned and cooperate in the investigation, the judge added.
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