Tuesday, 14 March 2017

How Ekta World tried to bluff Afternoon Courier journalist, and it backfired!

About a week back, freelance journalist Raju Vernekar got this intimidating email from Ekta World in reply to his email seeking rebuttal for a story.

Dear Mr. Raju Vernekar,

Mentioned below is information for your reference.

We are in receipt of your email dated 8th March, 2017 (“said Email”), and write to you in relation thereto. We outright deny all that has been stated by you in the said Email, and put you to strict proof thereof. Nothing therein should be deemed to be admitted by us, for want of traverse.

 At the outset, we would like to point out that you are the third such journalist who has been approached and misinformed/misled by Mr. Vineet Malik against us. He has, on two prior occasions, tried to use the public platform (through well-meaning journalists like you) to malign our brand and subject us to a media trial, with a view to illegally extract monies from us, but to no avail.

Please note that on 7th November, 2016, Mr. Vineet Malik has himself terminated his purchase of Flat No. 1104 (“said Flat”) in our project Ekta Parksville- Virar, Maharashtra and on 3rd December, 2016 we have offered him a full refund of the monies paid by him in respect of the said Flat. In light thereof, Mr. Malik has no right, title or interest in respect of the said Flat, as on date.

You are informed that as a result of the repeated illegal and arm twisting actions by Mr. Malik, and his using the public platform against us to further his own interests, we have filed Special Civil Suit No.36  of 2017 against him before the local court. The matter is thus sub-judice.
In the circumstances, we hereby caution you against publishing any defamatory or misleading article or material against us, at the behest of Mr. Vineet Malik, failing which we will be compelled to make you a party to the aforesaid suit and seek appropriate reliefs against you, at your risk as to cost and consequences, which please note.

Trust the aforesaid clarifies.

Kindly Note: That the matter is subjudice.

Thanks and Regards,
Shweta Powar


Raju Vernekar sought Vineet Malik's say in the matter. And this was Vineet's rebuttal of Ekta World's stand:

From: Vineet Malik <vineetmalik1@yahoo.co.in>
Date: Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 8:45 PM
Subject: Response to e mail sent by Ekta World Pvt Ltd employee
To: Reporter - Raju Vernekar <vernekar.raj@gmail.com>
Cc: Activist Sulaiman Bhimani - Mumbai <sulaimanbhimani11@gmail.com>, Activist Krishna Raj Rao - Mumbai <krish.kkphoto@gmail.com>

Sir ,

Pls find below my point wise response to e mail sent by Ms Shweta Powar ; employee of Ekta World Pvt Ltd.

1. That , i have not received notice of any such civil proceedings against me till date. E mail sent by Ekta World Pvt Ltd employee is nothing but a bluff and yet another attempt made to intimidate me on behalf of promoters of Ekta World Pvt Ltd, builder based in Bandra East , Mumbai.

2. That , all the more so called "Special Civil Suit No.36 of 2017" can not be admitted by the Court without giving me an opportunity to file a written response. Until a Suit is admitted by the Court , it is falsehood to call the matter SUBJUDICE.

To do so is simply a scare tactic and an attempt to muzzle the press.

3. That , i have a registered agreement in my possession that entitles me to the flat No. F - 1104 in Brooklyn Park in Ekta Parksville , Virar - West which stands unchanged till date.

Unless and until my flat transaction is cancelled by registration of a "Cancellation-of-Sale Deed", my title over the said flat will subsist.

All the more , simply by virtue of making a baseless refund offer by Ekta World Pvt Ltd which , i had promptly and out rightly rejected or simply by virtue of Ekta World Pvt Ltd letter asking for termination , Ekta World Pvt Ltd can not alienate my legitimate title and ownership of my flat.

4. That , i reiterate and stand firm to substantiate the allegations leveled by me against promoters of Ekta World Pvt Ltd before the appropriate deciding authorities at the opportune moment.

5. That , despite all such daring , daylight illegal acts committed by promoters of Ekta World Pvt Ltd , they have some cheek to call me a wrongdoer instead and are leaving no stone unturned to somehow cover up their brazen misdeeds with deliberate intent to continue with cheating people at large and overtly mislead everyone as an award winning builder which is nothing but a tactic to allure and trap prospective customers to buy a flat in their upcoming residential projects in the state of Maharashtra.

6. That , to caution the public about the hazards of dealing with a particular builder is not a defamatory act , because it is concerning the builder's actions affecting large numbers of home buyers. In fact , it is the lawful duty of every upright and public-spirited citizen to point out such irregularities and hazards so that others may not be deceived by this builder.

Publishing such news items is in the public interest and cannot be said to be defamatory.

Regards ,
Vineet Malik


Two days later, the Afternoon Courier prominently carried this story:

A defamation case against a flat-seeker?

Saturday, March 11, 2017
By Raju Vernekar
A flat seeker, who booked a flat in a housing complex Ekta Parksville in Virar West, is allegedly running from pillar to the post to get possession of the flat and states that the developers have filed a defamation suit against him.

According to the Vineet Malik, a resident of Gurgaon, Haryana, he had booked a flat at the construction Ekta Parksville in November, 2011 with an initial payment. Subsequently he says, he paid over Rs 27 lakh in installments covering cost of the flat, stamp duty, registration charges etc. According to Malik, he was given verbal assurance that the possession would be given in 2014. But when he got neither possession nor any assurance from the company, till late 2016, he began approaching concerned authorities. Malik says he is yet to get possession of the flat till date. Although the promoters should have specified the date by which the possession would be given in the agreement, as per the Maharashtra Ownership of Flat Act (MOFA) 1963, according to Malik, no date was mentioned.

In October 2016, Malik submitted a complaint to the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Dr Pradnya Sarawade, narrating his ordeal. He also filed a query under the RTI with the DG, Police. In response to the query, the Special IG Prabhat Kumar, on 3 November 2016, asked the Mumbai Police Commissioner to investigate the matter and file a report. Subsequently the Kherwadi police were asked to look into the matter, since the developer’s office is located at Bandra East. In turn Kherwadi police discussed the matter with Malik, giving him a promise to look into the matter. But according to Malik, the matter remained where it was.

Malik also alleges a violation of MOFA. The builder-buyer agreement, states that Upon possession of the said unit being delivered to the purchaser, the purchaser shall be entitled to use and occupy the said unit. Upon the purchaser taking possession of the said unit, the purchaser shall have no claim against the developer in respect of any item of work in the said unit or in the building or on the larger property which may be alleged to be defective or incomplete or undone.  Also, as per Section 3 of MOFA Act, the promoter has to specify in writing the date by which possession of the flat would be handed over. However the promoters, did not specify the date of possession of the flat and merely mentioned “As discussed”, Malik alleged.

When contacted API Raghvendra Kshirsagar of Kherwadi police station told Afternoon D&C that “apparently the case attracts MOFA because the flat seeker was not given possession of the flat in time. But since the housing complex is located at Virar, the case should be registered in Virar. As such we will consult our higher ups before transferring the case to Virar police station.He also mentioned that according to his knowledge the promoters are moving the court, in the matter.

When approached for their side of the matter, the company representative, in a telephonic conversation admitted that there had been delay in completing the project although some buyers have been given possession of the flat. However subsequently a PR consultant of the company, via e mail stated that the developer has filed a Special Civil Suit No.36 of 2017 against Malik since he himself had terminated the agreement related to the flat on 7 November, 2016 and he was offered a full refund of the money paid by him on 3 December, 2016. In light of this, he has allegedly has no right, title or interest in respect of the flat.

However in reply Malik maintained that he has not received notice of any such civil proceedings and the suit cannot be admitted by the Court unless he is given an opportunity to file a written response.

The Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act-1963 has been superseded by the new Real Estate (Regulation & Development Act) 2016 (RERA), but MOFA is still in force in Maharashtra. In june 2016, the special inspector general of police Prabhat Kumar instructed police commissioners in the state to register complaints against errant builders who cheat flat buyers and violate building norms.

The circular said that complaints should be lodged against builders who fail to hand over possession on time to buyers and also the developers who deliver apartments without procuring the mandatory building occupation certificate. It also mentioned builders who build beyond the sanctioned plans or those who build illegally. The circular also sought action against developers who accept 20% of the flat price but do not register the agreement or those who fail to form a housing society within the stipulated four month, after handing over flats to buyers.

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