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Complete probe against builders in 90 days, HC tells police

Bombay High Court

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court has directed the Mumbai Police Commissioner to evolve a mechanism to ensure that investigation of offences, particularly pertaining to complaints against builders and developers, should get over within 90 days as stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code.

A division bench of the High Court headed by Justice V M Kanade also directed the Police Commissioner to call for explanation from the investigation officer in cases where the chargesheet is not filed within the stipulated 90 days.

“An explanation should be called from the investigation officer as to why the investigation is not completed within a reasonable period of time and why chargesheet had not been filed in the stipulated period,” said the bench.

The Judges also opined that if the explanation in this regard is not found to be satisfactory, then adverse remarks should be made in Confidential Records of such officers.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by a city developer and other respondents seeking to quash a complaint filed by a resident of a building who was promised a flat after its reconstruction but was sold to another person.

“In the present case, we are informed by the instructing officers that hand writing expert’s opinion was not obtained in time and, therefore, the chargesheet was not filed.”

The bench expressed that this explanation is not satisfactory and opined that directions should be issued to the Police Commissioner to make an enquiry in this case.

However, it refrained from passing any orders because it did want the complainant and her husband to be harassed further and also because if such investigation is made again, they may have to run from pillar to post and visit the office of Police Chief.

“On this ground alone, we do not propose to give such directions,” the Judges said in a recent order.

One of the petitioners and builder Rajendra Jain, who was present in the court, voluntarily agreed to donate an amount of Rs one lakh to Tata Cancer Research Institute of Mumbai.

The court accepted his offer but directed that the amount should not be paid in currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination as these have been forfeited by the government in the recent demonetisation move.

In this case, the developer had promised to give a flat to the complainant lady after reconstruction of the building. However, after the building was re-constructed, the flat in question was not handed over to the complainant but transferred to another person. Being aggrieved, the lady lodged a complaint with Tardeo police.

Later, the developer had a compromise with the complainant and paid her Rs 16 lakhs by demand draft on settlement.

The high court noted, “The parties have now amicably settled the dispute. They have entered into a memorandum of understanding dated October 14, 2016. The petitioners have also paid her Rs 16 lakhs by pay order dated October 13, 2016.”

“We are satisfied that dispute between the parties is a personal one and as such there is no impediment in quashing the said complaint by the consent of the parties,” said the bench.

The judges further noted that they had interviewd the complainant and she had told them that there is no objection if the complaint is quashed. She also informed the Judges that she had received Rs 16 lakhs from the respondents by a demand draft and does not wish that she and her husband should go to court every month. Also, she said, there was no guarantee that the matter would be disposed of within a reasonable time.

She also told the court that if this amount is deposited by her in a bank, it would be doubled in 5 years. She also stated that she is now residing in Dadar area of Central Mumbai.

“Taking into consideration all these aspects, we are of the view that the ratio of Supreme Court Judgement in Gian Singh case applies to the facts of this case and hence we allow the complaint to be quashed,” said the bench.

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