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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Custodial Deaths Row,Maharashtra Government fails to install CCTVs in Police stations

Recently Bombay High Court pulled Maharashtra Government for not complying its directions   to install CCTV Cameras in every corner of the room of the police stations including an interrogation room before 10/09/2014. HC also expressed displeasure over not inviting tenders and making assessment and finding out how many police stations are there and how many CCTV cameras will be required for installation.

The Assistant Public Prosecutor for the State had asked twelve weeks' time as the report from the Home Department on this issue was awaited. HC then had adjourned the case till 24.9.2014. But now as the hearing has been adjourned till 13 November 2014 state government has got some more breathing period.

In its directions HC had asked Maharashtra Government to immediately install and maintain closed circuit television (CCTV) with rotating cameras in every corridor, room and lock up of each Police Station in the state so that every part of the Police Station is covered 24 hours of the day. Compliance report on this order was to be given before 10 September 2014.

Last month on 13 august after it was brought to the notice of the court that there were 333 custodial deaths over a period of 15 years from 1999 to 2013 in Maharashtra  and 43 FIRs were filed and 19 charge-sheets were filed, but no police officer has been convicted so far. Bombay High court had passed severe stricture on police. HC was hearing a criminal writ filed by Leonard Xavier Valdaris, father of deceased Agnelo Valdaris who  died in the custody of the Wadala Police.

Angelo by profession a driver was arrested with three others by wadala police. It was alleged that in custody police brutally tortured and sexually abused the accused. Later on Angelo was found dead. It was also alleged by Angelo’s father that police claim that Angelo died while escaping from the custody of the police, was well planned and designed to avoid criminal consequences arising out of the action of the accused. It was also submitted that, in fact, version had been given by one of the injured person in which he had in terms stated that one of the police officer had threatened him, that even if he dies during interrogation, he would be shown to have been killed in a railway accident.

Photo Courtesy - ummid.com 
While hearing this case HC initially refused to hand over the investigation to CBI, However court ordered CID to file fresh FIR. Then it was alleged by angelo’s father that an attempt had been made to destroy the evidence and fabricate the same   in   order   to   protect the   original accused, HC passed strictures against CID and handed over the case to CBI.

HC also observed that the manner  in  which  the  offence  was  alleged  to had been committed, was  gruesome and there was  complete lack of sensitivity of the interrogating agency in interrogating the accused. The photographs produced of the injured persons also indicated that they were brutally tortured by the police. 

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Phone – 9923299199

Friday, September 19, 2014

“Deceptive real estate investment schemes” and Right To Information

Mumbai pune nashik is called Golden Triangle of Maharashtra because of its best connectivity with Mumbai. As Pune and Nashik continue to be hot destinations for realty investments, here is huge demand for land from urban rich.


This demand is specially more in  Maval and Mulshi talukas because they are known for  fine scenic spots. But marring this tag, they are getting the dubious distinction of being the hotbed of fraudulent land deals.The changing of ownership titles of large tracts of land in Mulshi and Maval talukas, in Pune district, without the knowledge of original title holders, most of them farmers, to build resorts and farmhouses for the urban rich, is a scandal that has been going on for over a decade.


It is not the case that government doesn’t know this, but most of these deals are done with hand in gloves of land mafias with politicians and bureaucrats. You go anywhere in any village of these taluks you will find every big politicians ( despite of which party he/she belongs to) or bureaucrat land here .Hence common person cannot have easy access to land records in these taluks. Not even that , you will not find mulshi taluk on collector’s official website.


Mulshi taluk disappeared from Pune district Video Courtesy - Zee 24 Tass

If anybody tries to go in details of the Land records here, Mafias by hook or crook silent him/her. RTI activist Satish Shetty was killed because of the information he procured of massive land scams in Talegaon and Lonavala. The land sharks in Pune district are ripping off original land titles, and his killers are still moving scot free.

There is another angle to this story also. People always fall in love of investment offers of plantation schemes, Calm, Private, Luxurious and yet open Farm house plots with Sunrise / sunset point, Swimming pool, Landscape garden, Exclusive Developed demarcated plots with Boundary Fencing, forest walks along the periphery etc. etc –

What may restrictions and prohibitions SEBI, RBI or the government impose to tackle collective investment schemes or Ponzi real estate investment companies. Financial scams and scandal rock the country on regular basis, promising quick money to gullible small investors. They find loopholes in laws and regulations, play different tricks, play with the words, and give deceptive promises and so on.

To tackle this issue, Right To information is the best solutions. 
Photo courtesy - Ravi Karandeekar

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RTI KATTA is a platform to empower oneself through discussions amongst each other to solve their problems by using Right to Information act, Every Sunday at Chittaranjan Watika, Model Colony,Shivaji nagar, Pune, between 9.30 to 10.30 A.M.


RTI Resource Person, RTI Columnist
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Email – kvijay14@gmail.com
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Anger in police department over Unequal allocation of duties and victimization of whistle blowers inside

Making good good laws can not serve the purpose, there are several such laws In India but have become useless due to lack of proper implementation. Hence entire governance system has become defunct. There was hope that Right to Information Act (RTI) will help reduce corruption and improve governance but it didn’t happen. Many people who brought to light irregularities through RTI had to loose their lives or compelled to face the music

Hence there was a demand of a law to protect such whistle blowers, it was paid heed and whistleblower protection act came in to existence, though rules to this act are yet to be formed. This act was supposed to protect persons including public servant making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offence by a public servant.

To protect such whistle blowers there are three major provisions in whistle blower act

a) Government has to ensure that no person or a public servant who has made a disclosure under this Act is victimized by initiation of any proceedings or otherwise merely on the ground that such person or a public servant had made a disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this Act.
b) The Head of the organization or office concerned shall not directly or indirectly reveal the identity of the complainant or public servant who made the disclosure.
c)If any person is being victimized or likely to be victimized on the ground that he had filed a complaint or made disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this Act, he may file an application before the Competent Authority seeking redress in the matter,

Picture courtesy http://www.livelaw.in 
There was a hope that large number persons inside the system will come forward to to bring irregularities in their own department. But it didn’t happen, because till today our system hasn’t matured enough to take it positively if any public servant brings to light some irregularities of his/her own department.

For example a lady constable in Maharashtra police department took a training of Right to Information act from Yashada. As a part of training she was asked to have inspection of information disclosed under section 4 of RTI act of any public authority and give a gradation. The lady had a inspection of her own department and gave “D” i. e worst gradation because compliance u/s section 4 of the department was not up to the mark. Not only that in good faith she also reported this thing to highest officer of the department, and informed them that she will inspect the office once again after a month. As the lady had already brought some irregularities out through RTI, seniors took this letter as a insult to them. They sent her show cause notice and penalized her with fine of 110 rupees for alleged indiscipline.

There may be truth in allegations of abusive language by the the lady constable. There are some rules and regulation of departments, that are to be followed by by the servants and in department like police those are very strict have to be followed. Hence fine imposed upon lady constable can be justifiable. But in this case police obeyed their rules but what about RTI and whistleblower act, did they follow it? , did the information related to section 4 comply with? Did they take any action on irregularities exposed by lady constable? The answer is “no”?

There is lot of anger in police department over Unequal allocation of dities and subsequently irregularities and injustice due to it. Hence they are demanding dissemination of duty chart since many days. They tried to obtain about it through RTI but failed. Ae well there is long pending demand implementation of recommendations made in various  report on police reforms .But nobody paid heed to their demands hence some people tried RTI rout, due which some irregularities came to light. But obviously senior felt unhappy because this move was straight attack on their inefficiency. Hence they are victimizing junior level staff under the garb of departmental discipline. Now question before such staff is whether to bend before departmental discipline or to fight against injustice with help of RTI and whistleblower act.

Image courtesy  http://puputupu.blogspot.in/

In this case as this lady constable has brought many irregularities of the department to the light police department has sent has several show cause notices to her. In such scenario to whom she should go for protection and justice?. It’s sure that her own department is not ready to help her and there is no competent authority appointed under whistle blower act.


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RTI KATTA  
RTI KATTA is a platform to empower oneself through discussions amongst each other to solve their problems by using Right to Information act, Every Sunday at Chittaranjan Watika, Model Colony,Shivaji nagar, Pune, between 9.30 to 10.30 A.M.

Vijay Kumbhar

RTI Resource Person, RTI Columnist
Phone – 9923299199
Website – www.surajya.org
Twitter.com/kvijay14


Friday, September 12, 2014

Lust of gullible investors for heavy returns is the reason behind flourishing fraud investment schemes

What may restrictions and prohibitions SEBI, RBI or the government impose to tackle collective investment schemes or Ponzi investment companies.Financial scams and scandal rock the country on regular basis, promising quick money to gullible small investors. They find loopholes in laws and regulations, play different tricks, play with the words, give deceptive promises and so on. It is not the case that government official don’t understand or don’t know such cases but they hand in glove with promoters of such schemes and land mafias turn their eyes away from it.


Recently CBI registered a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating under Sections 120B and 420 of IPC against Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, his two companies Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL) and Pearls Golden Forest Limited (PGFL) and their director Sukhdev Singh. "Investigations have revealed that Bhangoo's companies raised investments from over 5 crore gullible investors through collective investment scheme under the garb of sale and development of agricultural land,

As well Mumbai  city economic offences wing (EOW) is probing a case involving PACL (formerly Pearls Agrotech Corporation) for allegedly duping investors by promising land. There are over 5 lakh investors in the state who invested money to get a plot or double their money in five years. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) asked PACL to refund Rs 49,100 crore to the investors within three months. Sebi has also ordered the immediate closure of unauthorized collective investment schemes (CIS) run by the company.

In Pune and around also several such schemes are being run. Few days back my friend and real estate blogger Ravi Karandeekar  forwarded me email sent to him by Landson realties requesting him to remove the YouTube Video of company’s Suhas Phadnis and team. I appreciate that ravi didn’t do so. Now question is why company was insisting on him to remove the video. Before drawing any conclusion lets have a look on the email, it says

“Dear Mr. Ravi,
As we have sold out our Layout of Teak county totally, please Remove the YouTube video uploaded by you of Suhas Phadnis & Team. Secondly our Project name was changed from Teak County to Wood County so it is not legal to keep old video with that name. We request you to remove the video at earliest.”



Now first of all if they have sold the entire layout then they should be proud of it, they can easily and with pride tell customers that our project was so successful that all plots are sold. However there is no harm in keeping video on YouTube.

Secondly if the name of the project has been legitimately changed from Teak County to Wood County, it makes no difference, it is perfectly legal. However before changing name project has to be registered with some authority, There is nothing such thing mentioned in videos or company website about where the project has been registered.

Landson claims that it has 104 acre land in its possession however IGR record shows hardly around 20 acre land in its partner’s name. They should come clean on this issue before claiming sell of all the 104 acres.

So what could be the reason behind insisting for removing the said video? , After going through that video, Teak County, Wood County websites and other related videos, it becomes crystal clear that the many statements made by team suhas Phadnis and his company are daisy and deceptive.

Now if you look at the project highlights of the wood county” it clearly says that “We are selling you an agriculture land with professional legal process. Teak Plantation is a feature where your planted trees will be registered with the Government. Plus, we will be maintaining Teak plant for you.”  But can any one purchase only land here? The answer is “no”. One has to go for plantation scheme. If he/she wants to purchase only land here, there is no other option.In its FAQ section in an answer to question ‘CAN WE HONOUR CLIENT’S DEMAND FOR LAND ONLY?” Company categorically says “The project offers land with teak plantation as a package.  It’s a two generation project and you can keep the land for your next generation by selling off the teak trees.” ( see FAQ no 30 ). In other terms whatever purchaser is paying under this scheme  is the contribution or payment made to such scheme or arrangement by the investors with a view to receive profits, income,  produce or property, whether movable or immovable from this scheme or Arrangement is a “Collective investment scheme” and is contrary to  Sebi regulations.


They pretend that Wood County is only selling the land, but that is not true going for teak wood plantation is compulsory. They also pretend that they are planting teak free of cost and will maintain it free of cost, but is that a truth ?. In fact, whether purchasers pays lump sum or on installment he has to sign an agreement of ten years for maintenance of the plot and water supply for the trees and has to pay Rs. 2/ sq. ft. for first five years and Rs. 2.5/ sq. for next five years or till the reaping of the trees whatever is later. Purchaser can not terminate this agreement,  if he does so,  he has to pay double the amount of remaining period towards liquidated damages.

What sort of land dealing is this?. This is nothing but a collective investment scheme (CIS).As per SEBI regulation Any scheme or arrangement made or offered by any company under which the contributions, or payments made by the investors, are pooled and utilized with a view to receive profits, income, produce or property, and is managed on behalf of the investors is a CIS. Investors do not have day to day control over the management and operation of such scheme or arrangement.

And, as per Section 11AA of the SEBI Act, A Collective investment scheme is any scheme or arrangement, which satisfies the following conditions:
 (i) the contributions, or payments made by the investors, by whatever  name called, are pooled and utilized solely for the purposes of the scheme or arrangement;
(ii) the contributions or payments are made to such scheme or arrangement by the investors with a view to receive profits, income,  produce or property, whether movable or immovable from such scheme or
arrangement;
(iii) the property, contribution or investment forming part of scheme or arrangement, whether identifiable or not, is managed on behalf of the investors;
(iv) the investors do not have day to day control over the management and operation of the scheme or arrangement.

Ladson realty satisfies all above conditions and in FAQ no 18 they also admit that “This indeed is our first Teak project and is just the beginning.  We have many more in pipeline”.This is clear confession that landson is attracting investors to invest in teak plantation and not in land.

Landson  also claims that they will plant 140 Teak wood ( In FAQs they say 100 Plants, see FAQ 25) saplings free of cost i.e. without any consideration whatsoever being paid by the Purchaser and there is no sale and/or any other like transaction of any nature. But is it really so? , then why they collect annual maintenance charges from purchaser after selling the land and why there is condition of double the maintenance charges if purchaser discontinues with the plantation scheme ?. This is nothing but contributions, or payments made by the investors, by whatever name called, are pooled and utilized solely for the purposes of the scheme or arrangement and illegal as per SEBI regulation

Ladson also claims that they are giving saplings free of cost as companies Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).When did Landson became a listed company?. If they are a company they have to be registered with SEBI. And as per Companies Act, 2013, any company having a net worth of rupees 500 crore or more or a turnover of rupees 1,000 crore or more or a net profit of rupees 5 crore or more should mandatorily spend 2% of their net profits per fiscal on CSR activities. Landson is not a listed company, it’s a partnership firm, And to deceive investors they are naming only CSR, actually they have nothing to do with CSR, also they are giving nothing free to the investor ( in landson’s language “purchasers”) Now look at the profit range of landson . In April 2014 they purchased 1.93 hector ( Two lakh eight thousand sq. ft. ) land at the cost of 18 lakh i.e. around nine rupees per sq. ft. and immediately started selling it under the name of teakwood plantation at the rate of 100 rupee per sq. ft. 11 times more than purchase price in just few days. plus recurring maintenance charges. Is there any other such lucrative business?


Not only this after so called sale of land, Landson also reserves right of amalgamation of all the plots with itself. There is one condition in an agreement “The purchaser hereby exclusively entitles to the vendor to specifically to do all that is required for amalgamation of entire holding of the vendor. It is further agreed that the purchaser is aware of the fact that the vendor shall amalgamate his entire holding and that the purchaser hereby authorizes to the vendor to do all that is necessary for the same.” How can one keep any rights with himself after selling the property?

Landson also claims 1 cr income after reaping of teak but refuses to give any written commitment, says “As per the guidelines issued by RBI and SEBI, we cannot offer any such written commitments.” (FAQ 39).

The project name initially was Teak County; it was later changed to Wood County. As Teak County they were selling same plot of 10890 sq. ft. with same built-up area
 ( http://www.commonfloor.com/teak-county-pune/povp-23lnui?f=sem_Teak-County-02&gclid=Cj0KEQjw7b gBRC45uLY_avSrdgBEiQAD3Olx41ERhz97AuABrZWf33EmFPauOdC6LwJHwoy8fcSq9waAkcX8P8HAQ ) . Ad was saying “Teak County is one of the popular residential developments in Talegaon, neighborhood of Pune. It is among the ongoing projects of its class. It has lavish yet thoughtfully designed residences.”, Lanson always advertised that  the project is in Talegaon , kanhe ,Takwe  but actual project is in kashal. Why so?



Landson has published video of one Maharashtra Forest official Mr. kashinath Rathod who was praising the project. The search of this name and designation in government website yielded nothing.It will interesting to know which law has permitted this public servant to praise such private collective investment project. What details of the project did he check before doing so?




In the nutshell the investors or purchaser in such projects must take adequate care before investing their hard earned money, there is no point in crying fowl after loss. They should always insist for all the documents from the developers and take guidance from reliable lawyer in such cases. And developers should also come clean before launching any scheme any ambiguity may lead to serious consequences.

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