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Builders denied bail for selling flat on illegal floor
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has refused to grant bail to two developers who allegedly cheated a woman by promising her a fifth-floor flat in an under-construction building in Bandra that had permissions only to build up to the third floor.
The builders, Sharif Altaf Furniturewala and his uncle Aftab Latif, have been in jail for two months since their arrest on October 19.
Their claims that the case was a civil one and their offer to return the sum of Rs 50 lakh they had taken from the complainant, Rubina Ansari, failed to impress the court.
One of the two builders, Furniturewalla, was charged earlier this year along with his two brothers after the Aftab Manzil building which they owned in Mahim came crashing down, killing 10 persons, including advocate Rizwan Merchant’s mother, wife and son.
Merchant, who is Ansari’s lawyer in this case, argued it was not a simple case of cheating but part of an “epidemic of illegal constructions in the city”, where an attempt was made to put up a building “up to the 7th floor without there being any sanction from local authorities” with a “design to earn huge profits at the cost of lives of flat purchasers”.
The complaint said Furniturewala and Latif signed an agreement to sell a 600 sq ft flat on the fifth floor of their under-construction seven-storey building Concrete Construction in Bandra to Rubina in 2010. Rubina paid Rs 50 lakh of the total cost of Rs 78 lakh.
However, she soon came to know the building did not have permissions. When her notice for refund of money went unanswered, she lodged a criminal complaint with the police.
Rubina’s lawyers, while opposing the bail plea, pointed out that around five documents were forged, including the commencement certificate to show the BMC had given permissions for a seven-storey building.
Advocate Merchant said it was an attempt to violate civic rules “for construction of the building which, if it collapses, will cause casualty of human lives—as has happened in the collapse of Aftab Manzil”.
Justice A R Joshi agreed. “The present matter cannot be viewed as a simple breach of contract and cheating an individual and as such entitling the applicants to bail on their willingness to deposit an amount of Rs 50 lakh.”
Justice Joshi added that since the matter was still being investigated, it was not proper to release the accused on bail.