Criminal Action under MOFA

 

Criminal Cases under MOFA

Very few criminal cases are filed against builders and land owners under the Provisions of MOFA (Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the promotion of construction, sale, management and transfer) Act, 1963) and other sections of the IPC.

I do not know the exact reasons.  Most flat owners, and even lawyers, are not aware that violation of the provisions of MOFA is a criminal offence. Other flat owners are too scared of the builders and are often threatened by them.

In one of the rare cases, in August 2015, Sree Jugal Sreegopal Saraf, a resident of Pedder Road, Mumbai registered a cheating case against Praful Satra, Chairman and Managing Director of Satra Group of Companies and his colleagues.

According to the Complainant  Sree Jugal Sreegopal Saraf,  Praful Satra and his company, had approached him for an upcoming commercial project in Borivli called the Dream Mall.
Sree Jugal Sreegopal Saraf and his six friends booked six shops for a total amount of Rs. 6,91,79,500. Only after making the payments,  Sree Jugal Sreegopal Saraf and his six friends realized that the builder had cheated them by showing them forged documents because the project was under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) Scheme.


The Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police made investigations and arrested Praful Satra on 5 January 2016  for cheating 7 persons to the tune of Rs. 6.92 crores by selling an SRA Scheme as Commercial plot on the basis of forged documents.


Praful Satra’s Juhu JVPD Project

In 2011, Praful Satra, who developed a Juhu residential tower, was dragged to the Bombay high court for large-scale violations, including having car parking decks outside flats that allegedly could be later amalgamated into the flats’ carpet areas. The matter is now pending in the Supreme Court. Before the Supreme Court, Praful Satra has cited instances of 18 similar projects in Mumbai’s western suburbs to justify his case.


Of the 196 parking slots in this building, 99 are on habitable floors (stilt and podium), with nine on each floor. The average size of a flat in the tower was shown as around 2,000 sq ft. However, the builder provided an equivalent space outside each flat for car decks.

The BMC said the total car deck area in the building was around 75,000 sq ft, which fetched the builder an additional Rs 150 crore (sold at the prevailing rate of about Rs 20,000 per sq ft in Juhu). Besides basement and podium parking, the builder was allowed to construct nine car park decks on each floor of the building, which has three wings of 11 floors each and 33 flats. The project was approved when Jairaj Phatak was BMC chief.

Satra’s JVPD Scheme project has become a test case for builders who build car parking slots adjoining apartments on higher floors. Civic activists allege that these slots are not really for parking, but are sold illegally at market rates and later surreptitiously amalgamated into the flat by the owner in connivance with the developer.

 The entire news article about Satra’s arrest  is available at the following link:

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-builder-held-for-duping-buyers-of-rs-7-crore/16835156

 

Air Pollution in Mumbai

 

The past few weeks have been very distressful for me. I have been deeply concerned with the increasing air pollution in Mumbai and the increasing number of diseases directly related to it. I, my wife and two sons have been seriously effected. I have been thinking of taking some action.

Though I do not agree with the odd even rule on the movement of cars imposed in Delhi which is riddled with so many litigations, and uncertainties, drastic action is needed in Delhi.

One of the measures I would suggest is the use of vacuum cleaning trucks which are used in several countires. We can take help and opinion from them.

 

Air Pollution in Mumbai


Coming back to the air pollution in Mumbai, I am relieved to note that the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench in New Delhi, has passed the following order on 6-January-2016:

 

“ In view of the fact that the matter is pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, particularly the order dated 16th December, 2015 in relation to matter relating to air pollution in NCT, Delhi, we are of the considered view that Tribunal should not pass any directions in this regard at this stage. Therefore we would restrict these petitions for the present only to the places other than Delhi, in relation to air pollution by different sources and subject to such orders as may be passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.


“ We therefore have to decide the matter relating to air pollution in other major cities like Bombay, Kolkata, Bangalore, Patna, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Jallandhar and Amritsar. Let Notice be issued to all the Learned Counsel appearing for the respective states relating to these cities.


“The ambient air quality samples will be taken and analysis report be submitted before the Tribunal. They shall also state the steps they are taking for controlling and preventing the air pollution, resulting from dust emission because of the constructions and other activities, emission from burning of Municipal Solid Waste and other waste including burning of agriculture residue and vehicular pollution. The Pollution Control Board of the respective States in consultation with the Central Pollution Control Board shall prepare a report and analyse the ambient air quality samples forthwith in the related cities as indicated.

“List this matter on 09th February, 2016.”

We should be happy with this welcome development.

 

I am giving the link to the National Green Tribunal’s Order:

http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/Writereaddata/Downloads/21-2014(PB-I)OA6-1-2016.pdf

 

Passport – Cancellation or Rejection of Passport without any Notice

 

Issue of Passport – Sovereign Function

The decision to issue a passport or not is a sovereign function. The Govt. of India does have the right to reject issue or rejection of Passport in appropriate cases.

Having said that, not issuing a passport for wrong and invalid reasons can amount to deficiency in services. And the aggrieved person can approach the Consumer Forums or the High Court for relief.

 

4 January 2016 – Bombay High Court 

The Bombay High Court took the passport office to task over pending applications and rejections without valid reasons. 

A division bench comprising Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice B P Colabawalla issued a warning to the passport office that if the court came across such cases in the future, the concerned passport officer would be penalized heavily.

 

Brief Facts of the Case

A Kandivali resident Amit Agarwal filed a writ that his passport, which was renewed in 2013, had been abruptly cancelled after he approached the passport office to get his birth date corrected on it. 

Agarwal’s lawyer, Vivek Kantawala, informed the court that the passport was cancelled without giving his client a hearing. Agarwal is a businessman who travels often – substantiated by the numerous visa stamps on his previous passport. He had applied for a renewal of his passport well before its expiry date of July 2014, and was provided with the same in 2013. 

However, when he approached the passport office to correct his birth date, which showed that he was a year younger than he was, the passport office cancelled his passport saying that Agarwal had failed to disclose a case that had been filed against him by his wife. Agarwal, in his petition, had said that the disclosure of the case was not held relevant by him as it was filed after he had already received his renewed passport. 

When the court inquired from the passport office about the compliance of the sections pertaining to the issuance of passports/travel documents, which mandate an order, the passport authorities had no reply. The court then issued a warning to the authorities, directing them to pass an order on Agarwal’s application by January 11. 

 

Court’s Observations

“We fail to understand as to why this court’s precious time should be wasted by the regional passport officer by forcing parties, like the petitioner, to approach this court and seek a direction of such nature. The passport officer must realize that it is his obligation and duty to consider the application. The applications, as made online, or presented physically, have all to be considered,” observed the bench. 

Asking the passport officers to treat online as well as regular applications at the same level, the court observed that the rules laid down under the Passport Act 1967 should be followed properly. 

“If the passport officer is satisfied after the enquiries that are required to be made that the passport must be issued with or without endorsement or should be refused, has to pass a reasoned order.
Hereafter, if applications of the above nature are kept pending without any orders being passed forcing parties to approach this court, then, we would take a serious view of the conduct of the Regional Passport Officer concerned and while allowing the request we would impose heavy costs to be paid personally by the Regional Passport Officer,” the bench added.

 

My Views

I myself have come across instances of cancellation of passport without issuing any valid show cause notice, without giving a personal hearing, on wrong and illogical reasons simply because the police submit some unconnected report. This illegal practice should be stopped.

 The National Commission has held that matters relating to passport come within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.

http://164.100.72.12/ncdrcrep/judgement/00RP238908.htm