The Bhagtani Saga: After 10 years, no hope for 2,500 victims
Nearly 10 years after they were cheated of more than Rs 427 crore by a Mumbai realtor, 2,500 victims run from pillar to post to recover their hard-earned money
MUMBAI: Nearly 10 years after they were cheated of more than Rs 427 crore by a Mumbai realtor, 2,500 victims run from pillar to post to recover their hard-earned money. The builders are Laxman Lachhman Bhagtani, 70, and his sons—Dipesh and Mukesh, all directors of JVPD Properties Pvt. Ltd. and Jaycee Homes Pvt Ltd. According to the victims, between 2012-2013, they paid up the part or full amounts of around Rs 427 crore for 1-BHK or 2-BHK flats in projects in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
As the Bhagtanis failed to live up to their commitments of starting and completing the construction on time, the total amount with interest and taxes has shot up to nearly Rs 1,000-crores now (2022). Around 2017, the builders informed the prospective flat buyers that owing to changes in the laws they could not estimate the project completion time and hinted at cancelling it. The buyers were given options to shift to other projects which were costing higher, and if they wanted a refund of their investments, the builders would provide post-dated cheques or online payments scheduled after 2-3 years. Some of those who opted to cancel received 2 to 3 per cent of their amounts, but the builders’ cheques bounced and no online payments were received, and the investors moved the Mumbai Police, Economic Offences Wing and other departments seeking justice. In December 2017, Dipesh Bhagtani called a meeting of all investors and sought another 1-2 years-time to clear his payments, claiming the Bombay High Court did not allow it, but the company also failed to deposit an amount of Rs 22 crore as directed by the court.
The next month, January 2018, Dipesh Bhagtani was arrested by the EOW and was in the lockup for 19 months, while his father and sibling managed to evade the law. Meanwhile, in mid-2018, feeling the heat of at least nine cases, Laxman Bhagtani and his other son Mukesh Bhagtani managed to flee from India and the InterPol issued a red corner notice against them in November 2018. Acting on the notice, the father-son duo was nabbed in Dubai in July 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the EOW froze 125 bank accounts of the Bhagtanis and their companies, slapped attachment orders on at least four of their properties. Simultaneously, the EOW initiated proceedings to get the father-son duo nabbed in Dubai extradited to India, but the current status is not available.