A 69-year-old resident of Byculla, Mary Gene Gracias, was shocked to discover that her property, spanning 2,079.90 square meters in Bandra West, had been sold for Rs20.80 crore without any corresponding tax payment, as revealed in a notice from the Income Tax department she received.
Details of fraud
The intricacies of this dubious transaction unfolded when Mary realised that the person to whom she had granted power of attorney for managing the property had surreptitiously orchestrated its sale. Consequently, an FIR was lodged with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police.
The property in question, initially owned by Mary's husband Gene Gracias, held sentimental value as he had envisioned developing it before his demise in 2016. Complicating matters, an aged chawl occupied the land, with Mary holding a 25% share. Following the passing of Mary's mother-in-law, the property transitioned to Gene Gracias’s name, co-owned with Mary, Myra Miranda, and Lara D'Souza, the husband’s two sisters.
Despite the trio’s efforts to develop the property by assigning power of attorney to Savio Vegas, the son of Mary's maternal uncle, in 2014, bureaucratic hurdles thwarted their plans. Shockingly, in 2021, Mary received an Income Tax notice stating that she had sold the land without fulfilling the tax obligations.
IT Dept's raid uncovers crucial docs
The Income Tax department, during a raid on the offices of Riddhi Siddhi Construction and Riddhi Siddhi Corporation, uncovered crucial documents and later sent a Xerox copy of the Deed of Conveyance dated December 14, 2014, to Mary. Subsequent attempts to reach Savio Vegas proved futile, compelling Mary, Miranda, and D'Souza to delve into the details of the transaction.
To their dismay, they discovered a document indicating that the property, valued at Rs30.10 crore, was sold for Rs20.80 crore, with a cheque of Rs7.20 crore issued to the concerned parties. The transaction involved the creation of a deed of conviction followed by a power of attorney. Maintaining her innocence, Mary asserted ignorance of the company named Grand Heights and its associated individuals, insisting that the sale was fraudulent.
In response to these revelations, an FIR has been filed against Savio Vegas and his associates —Ashok Savlani, Sultan Lalani, Md Sharif Khan, Md Akhtar Sheikh, and Piyush Gaur— at the Bandra police station, invoking relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. It appears that Vegas manipulated the conveyance deed, granting extensive rights to his company, thus sparking this legal quandary.