Bombay High Court withdraws interim protection given to Pune builder

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today withdrew the interim protection from arrest that it had earlier granted to a Pune-based builder and his wife in an alleged cheating case. D S Kulkarni and wife Hemanti have been booked by the Pune police on charges of cheating over 2,500 investors to the tune of Rs 230 crore.

Justice Sadhana Jadhav of the high court noted that the Kulkarnis had taken the court “for granted” and that they had “not only cheated their investors, but also the court”. Observing that they must not be permitted to enjoy protection from arrest at the “cost of the court’s faith”, Justice Jadhav vacated her order of November, in which she had granted anticipatory bail to the couple.

In November last year, Justice Jadhav had granted protection from arrest to them after they assured the court that they had every intention of repaying the investors. At that time, they had also assured the court that they would deposit Rs 50 crore with the court registry within a fortnight. However, no such deposit has been made so far.

On the last hearing on February 14 this year, Kulkarni had told the court that he had arranged for Rs 12 crore and that the Buldana Urban Multistate Co-operative Credit Society had agreed to accept his liability up to Rs 100 crore by mortgaging his properties that were worth “thousands of crores”. The court had extended his relief up to February 22   this year. However, yesterday, the prosecution moved the high court seeking an urgent hearing.

The police told the court that the properties that Kulkarni had promised to give to the Buldana bank were already mortgaged to another bank, and that another plot of land that Kulkarni had proposed to sell to pay off the investors was a government plot reserved for public amenities that couldnt be sold. Today, the officials of the Buldana bank affirmed the submission by the police before the HC.

“This is a shocking state of affairs. The tall claims made by the applicants (Kulkarnis) that their properties were worth thousands of crores, have fallen flat. They had been granted interim relief only because this court wanted the investors, most of whom are senior citizens, to recover their money,” Justice Jadhav said. “However, all this while, the applicants merely indulged in gimmickry and bought time at the cost of the court’s faith,” she said.

“They took the law and the court for granted and cheated not just the investors, but also this court. Therefore, interim relief is vacated and the prosecuting agency (police) is free to initiate arrest, or take any other suitable action against the applicants,” Justice Jadhav said.The court also issued a notice to a Singapore-based firm – Prabhune International, asking why it must not be charged for perjury. Prabhune International had made a false claim before the high court of having transferred Rs 50 crore into D S Kulkarni’s account to help him deposit the money with the court registry.

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