In a strongly worded order, the Bombay High Court (HC) has ordered Jayesh Shah and Ketan Shah, both directors of Ravi Development LLP to prove that they are ‘paupers’ by producing their and the firm’s bank account statements and sharing details of their standard of living. The HC was angry with the builder for taking the homebuyers who had booked apartments and paid the money ‘for a ride’ and came down heavily on the builder.
"We are, therefore, adjourning the matter to enable the advocate for Respondent Nos. 5 to 7 to satisfy us that they do not have any funds whatsoever. In other words, they will have to establish that they are virtually paupers not having funds in their bank accounts and their standard of living also bears out the same,” the HC bench said in their hard-hitting order.
The matter relates to April 2013, when the petitioner, Arun Parshuram Veer, a retired pensioner, executed a registered agreement for sale and purchased a residential flat bearing No. 504, 'C' Wing on the 5th floor in the building known as Gaurav-Woods, Phase-II admeasuring about 753 sq.ft. carpet area from Ravi Development, a partnership firm, for a total consideration of Rs62.77 lakh. The petitioner paid a total amount of Rs61.58 lakh in instalments. However, the building construction could not be completed.
The petitioner approached the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) which on 23 May 2018 directed the developer to refund the amount paid by the petitioner along with interest at 10.05% per annum and Rs3.76 lakh and Rs20,000 paid towards stamp duty and registration.
As per the agreement, Mr Veer was promised possession in 2015. However, he neither got possession of the said apartment nor has he received the refund of the money he had already paid
The petitioner approached MahaRERA again to execute the earlier order, following which a recovery warrant under section 40(1) of the RERA Act was issued. Thereafter the petitioner approached the collector of Thane to enforce the execution order, but to no avail.
Mr Veer finally approached the Bombay High Court. Meanwhile, the developer approached the petitioner, and they entered consent terms for a full and final settlement of Rs1.08 crore. However, the developer defaulted on the first payment and no money was ever paid actually.
A petition, filed through advocate Nilesh Gala from Law Square, pleaded and sought directions to the Thane Collector for prompt action for attachment and sale of the developer's assets for recovery of arrears following an exec
A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and MN Jadhav heard the petition and directed Ravi Development and its partners Jayesh Shah and Ketan Shah to disclose their moveable, immovable, encumbered and unencumbered assets, bank statements (including personal accounts), particulars of standard of living like electricity bill, credit card statement and income tax returns for the past three years.
The bench says the developer has not only taken homebuyers and courts for a ride by not delivering the promised flats but have also breached several undertakings given to the different courts.
"We are passing this order since Respondent Nos. 5 to 7 have repeatedly not only taken several flat purchasers for a ride, by taking their hard-earned monies and not providing them their flats on time, nor returning their hard-earned monies, but have also repeatedly taken the Courts for a ride by giving solemn undertaking/s in order to avoid any adverse orders being passed against them, knowing fully well that they have no intention to honour the undertaking/s given by them to the court," the HC order says.
The bench noted that the Ravi Development has repeatedly defied court orders and failed to pay other flat purchasers too.
The defendants were well aware that assignments keep changing and they can try convincing the next judge to grant them further extension to make the payment "which order would once again be breached with impunity," the court added.
During the hearing, advocate Makarand Raut, counsel for Ravi Development contended that the developer can manage only to pay Rs25 lakh by August 2021 (next month). Following this, the bench adjourned the matter to 22nd July, with directions to the developer to make necessary disclosures regarding its assets and the assets belonging to its partners Jayesh Shah and Ketan Shah.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the petitioner suffered a cardiac arrest after this order was read out and is currently recuperating in a hospital's intensive care unit.