[ecis2016.org] Complaints filed by the public, where they allege of being cheated by a developer or builder, cannot be termed as ‘civil disputes’, the Bombay High Court has said
The Bombay High Court’s justice Shahrukh Kathawalla, in an order passed last week, said that the police should not shirk away from their responsibility by terming complaints of cheating against developers, as civil disputes. The HC passed the order, while hearing a petition filed by Liberty Garden Cooperative Housing Society, situated in suburban Malad, claiming that despite several assurances, a developer, KT Group, had failed to finish the society’s redevelopment project.
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According to the petition, the society had, in December 2013, entered into an agreement with the developer through its three partners – Dhairya Sheth, Sandeep Sheth and Dhruv Sheth – to redevelop the society complex. In January 2015, a commencement certificate was issued for the project, where the KT Group had agreed to complete the project within 28 months. However, the developer failed to complete the project within the stipulated period and also refused to make payments towards compensation to the society members, since April 2017.
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In September 2017, the society approached the suburban Malad police, with a complaint of cheating against the developer. However, the senior inspector of Malad police station said the dispute was of civil nature. Aggrieved with this, the society approached the high court.
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Justice Kathawalla, after hearing brief arguments in the case, said complaints filed by the members of the public, alleging that they have been cheated by a developer, cannot be termed as disputes of civil nature. “Yet, the police officials in-charge of the police stations, are not ready to assist the common man when they seek police assistance and instead show them the door, by terming their complaints as civil disputes,” justice Kathawalla said.
“I find that there is no improvement in the approach/ conduct of the senior police officers. When the concerned officer/s are directed to remain present before the court and questioned as to what steps they have taken on such complaints, they simply tender a mechanical apology,” he added. The court noted that the senior inspector of Malad police station, when asked to remain present in the court, has assured that he would look into the same and take necessary steps. The bench, which accepted the statement, directed the city’s police commissioner to look into the whole issue and take appropriate steps.
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