Taking a strict view against increasing instances of real estate developers duping buyers and getting away with it, the Bombay high court has directed the Commissioner of Police (CP) to “evolve a mechanism to ensure that investigations in such cases are completed within 90 days”. It added that in cases where the deadline is not met, the CP must call for a “written explanation from the concerned Investigating Officer” (IO), and ensure that “adverse remarks are made in the IO’s Annual Confidential Record.”
The directions came while a bench of Justices VM Kanade and Nutan Sardessai were hearing a plea filed by a Tardeo resident. In 2013, the petitioner’s building was redeveloped and as per the agreement between her and the private developer, she was to be given a flat in the redeveloped building. Once the redevelopment work was completed, however, the developer went back on his word. When the petitioner made enquiries, she realised that the developer had given the flat to a third party instead. The developer and the third party had also colluded and managed to forge the petitioner’s signature on some important documents.
The petitioner then registered an FIR against both the third party and the developer but the police failed to help her. In October this year, all three parties arrived at an amicable settlement as per which the petitioner relinquished her rights over the flat and was given a compensatory amount by the developer.
They then approached the high court to get the pending FIR quashed.
While the bench decided that since all the three parties were satisfied with the new arrangement, there was no point dragging the case for years. It accordingly allowed the FIR to be quashed and noticed that in all this while, the police had failed to take any action based on the FIR.
“We are surprised that even though two years have passed since the FIR was registered, the investigating officer has not filed a chargesheet in the case till date,” the bench said. It added, “The police claims that it could not obtain the handwriting expert’s opinion on time and therefore, there was a delay in filing the chargesheet. But we are of the opinion that the said explanation is not a satisfactory one.”
The bench said that the CP must ensure that in future, such complainants are not forced to “run from pillar to post.” The bench also directed the developer to deposit Rs 1 lakh at the Tata Cancer Hospital as a fine and added that the amount must “not be deposited in the old bank notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000.”