Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has sentenced builder Pravin Satra, proprietor of Darshan Developers, to three months in prison for contempt of court due to failure to comply with court undertakings.
Justice Manish Pitale observed on Friday that Satra violated the undertakings given to the court, making him liable for Contempt of Court.
"The respondent (Satra) is held guilty of having committed contempt of this Court and he is sentenced to suffer imprisonment for a period of three months and to pay a fine of ₹2,000, in default to suffer further imprisonment for two weeks," noted Justice Pitale.
Court: Pay ₹4 crore within six week
The court also directed the developer to pay ₹4 crore within six weeks to purge the contempt. Considering that the developer has already paid ₹1 crore, the remaining ₹3 crore has to be paid.
However, the court stayed the order for six weeks following a request from the developer to approach the Supreme Court. "... the order passed today, pertaining only to the sentence of imprisonment, is stayed for a period of six weeks from today," the court clarified.
The High Court was hearing a contempt petition filed by Achyut Shridhar Godbole urging the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Satra. The builder is facing two notices in the present proceedings for having committed Contempt of this Court.
According to Godbole’s advocate, Drupad Patil, Godbole executed two agreements with Darshan developers on January 7, 2004, for the sale of flats measuring 765 sq.ft. and 720 sq.ft. respectively. Godbole paid Rs 59 lakh of the ₹67 lakh over a period of time.
In 2008, when Godbole approached the developer for possession of the flats, the developer claimed that permission from the Civil Aviation Department was not received and that a further time of 6 months may be required to obtain it. On June 6, 2011, the developer informed Godbole that they had received permission and would be handing over the possession within a year.
"It is an admitted position that the Respondent (developer) failed to do so, and a substantial period of time passed," the court noted.
Arbitration clause invoked in 2014
On May 15, 2014, Godbole sent a notice invoking an arbitration clause in the agreements and initiated an arbitration petition before the court. In the consent terms, the developer provided specific undertakings to the Court regarding timelines for completing the flats and handing over possession, along with all necessary permissions for occupancy and use of the flats. The High Court appointed a court receiver to monitor the construction of the flats, which were to be handed over within nine months.
Godbole also agreed to deposit ₹30 lakhs with the Court Receiver, covering the remaining balance to be paid to the developer.
The High Court accepted the consent terms and resolved the petition on October 10, 2014.
Additionally, the developer deposited ₹1 crore with the Prothonotary and Senior Master of this Court.
Advocates Bhavesh Parmar and Rajesh Sahani, representing the developer, argued that the amounts received for the construction of the flats were returned. The court noted in its 46-page order, 'It is emphasized by the developer that the two flats were indeed constructed, but the entire construction process was frustrated due to the impossibility of obtaining an occupation certificate.'
The court stated that the developer had tendered an apology, but it found the apology insincere in light of the recorded events. 'Merely because the respondent deposited the amount of ₹1 crore, it cannot be considered a ground for leniency,' the judge asserted.