Mumbai: In a two-decade old housing and investment scam allegedly perpetrated by Ahuja builders, an advocate representing several homebuyers has submitted a letter to Commissioner of Police Vivek Phansalkar and Joint Commissioner of Police (Economic Offences Wing; EOW) Nishith Mishra, highlighting inadequate investigation despite several FIRs.
In his letter, advocate Prakkash Rohira has said that the father-son duo – Jagdish and Gautam Ahuja – cheated over 2,000 homebuyers. Though Jagdish Ahuja was arrested, his son Gautam has been on the run but the police haven't made any efforts to secure his custody.
HC directs probe
On September 9, 2022, the Bombay High Court instructed the investigating officer to probe all the accused parties. However, only basic statements of the accused were recorded and no steps were taken to trace the funds, except for freezing select accounts, Rohira has said.
As per Rohira’s letter, neither has a forensic report been submitted, nor have the accounts, funds, and benefits of the accused’s family members been investigated, in contravention of the HC order.
The father-son duo, who were directors of Snehanjali & SB Developers Pvt Ltd and Bhalchandra Trading Private Limited, along with their Chinese partners, are accused of defrauding 2,511 homebuyers and investors of ₹581 crore. They promised refund for undelivered flats but many cheques issued by them bounced, leading to 65 cases being registered against them by the EOW. Jagdish Ahuja was arrested from Punjab in December 2022.
Rohira said, “We do not have investigative powers. There are hundreds of victims who have been defrauded. Many of them are senior citizens, retired men and women, who have invested their life savings.”
Harikishan Vaswani, 57, a businessman from Cuffe Parade, filed a cheating case against the duo at Santacruz police station on July 29 last year. Vaswani had been acquainted with the duo since 2005. On an investment of ₹5.45 crore, he was promised a 20% return between 2009 and 2016 but received no money or promised flats. When cheques issued by the Ahujas bounced, Vaswani filed a case for alleged deception amounting to ₹12.25 crore.
Another case was registered on August 10, 2022, by Vinamra Goyal, 40, who received neither any returns on Rs4 crore investment nor the promised flat. Anil Gehani, 60, of Andheri West lodged a case on November 25, 2022, alleging cheating of ₹12.31 crores. Despite initial returns, Gehani claimed that the promised returns and the principal amount were not paid. The Ahujas had also issued a bounced cheque for ₹4.60 crore.
Bhawna Ahuja, 70, one of the victims, shared her ordeal, “My husband invested 10 lakh and received some returns and we invested ₹16 lakh more. My husband passed away in 2014. By 2016, they stopped paying the promised 24% interest. Despite my plea for money to fund my daughter’s marriage, they did not return our money. I had to borrow money and have to look after my son with special needs.”
The Chunabhatti police have charged the duo with cheating 590 homebuyers. These buyers were promised flats in a redevelopment project on LBS Road. While some families await rents, others claim to have paid significant amounts without possession. Furthermore, the flat prices allegedly doubled when new investors got involved.