BENGALURU: After a 11-year battle to recover their money, 98 families from across the country comprising retired army personnel, families of poor soldiers and widows of army men won a case last week against a builder who had cheated them of their savings. The builder has now been ordered to pay a total of Rs 3.18 crore to them.
The verdict was delivered on July 5 by a city sessions court. M B Basavaraj, managing director of Nandi Builders India Pvt Ltd., had collected Rs 3.61 crore from the families in 2007, promising them developed plots. The ‘Soldiers Port’ layout, however, remained only on paper.
Altogether, 122 families of army personnel from across the country handed over money to Army Housing Co-operative Society Pvt Ltd which entered into an MoU with Nandi Builders for the ‘Soldiers Port’ project in July 2007, said Commodore (retd) Devadatta. This 75-year-old too had parted with Rs 7.8 lakh to buy two plots in the layout.
“The minimum amount paid by each of these families for registration was Rs 20,000. The first instalments that could be paid for plots of different dimensions were fixed at Rs 3 lakh, Rs 4.8 lakh and Rs 8 lakh,” Comm. Devadatta said.
While the understanding was that a sum of Rs 2 crore would initially be paid by the society to the builder, the remainder was meant to be paid after the layout was developed. The builder also produced a safety guarantee from Jammu and Kashmir Bank for Rs 2 crore with a date on it.
“The builder bought 3 acres and 12 guntas in his name and showed the papers to the society. As it was agricultural land, it could not be bought in the name of the society and so everyone believed it was done for our sake,” he added.
Showing these papers to the society’s committee members, he asked for another Rs 1.6 crore to develop it and the amount was also paid. Smelling a rat, 24 families demanded a refund and took back their money.
“The builder continued to ask for more money, which was not given. Two years later, with no progress made, the society members felt that something was amiss and decided to encash the safety cheque. The cheque bounced,” he said.
This forced the society to move a magistrate court in 2009. The court pronounced the builder guilty in 2012 and asked him to pay them Rs 2.45 crore for the bounced cheque. But he appealed against it in a sessions court and got some relief. However, the society filed a case against him in the High Court and the verdict is still awaited.
Meanwhile, the builder gave three more undated cheques totalling Rs 3.5 crore to the society members. “When we produced them in the bank, all of them bounced,” he added. The society took him to court asking for a payment of Rs 1.5 crore as they expected a favourable verdict in the Rs 2-crore case. But the society lost the case against him in a magistrate court in June 2016.
After appealing against it, they finally got a favourable verdict on July 5 with the sessions court ordering Basavaraj to pay Rs 3.18 crore to the society to be handed over to its investors. A verdict is still awaited in the Rs 2 crore cheque bounce case in the High Court.
Basavaraj did not respond to repeated calls or messages.