The Bombay High Court recently rapped police officials for terming as civil disputes allegations of cheating against developers and thereby, turning away complainants.
Justice S.J. Kathawalla observed, "I have in the past repeatedly recorded in my orders that the complaints filed by the members of the public alleging that they have been cheated by the developer cannot be termed as disputes of a civil nature, yet the police officials in-charge of the police stations are not ready to assist the common man when they seek police assistance and instead show them the door by terming their complaints as being civil disputes."
The Judge further lamented the conduct of officials once the misconception is pointed out to them, noting, "Despite the above observations in my orders, I find that there is no improvement in the approach/conduct of the Senior Police Officers. When the concerned officer/s are directed to remain present before the Court and questioned as to what steps they have taken qua such complaints, they simply tender a mechanical apology."
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Liberty Garden Co-op. Housing Society Ltd. alleging that a developer, K.T. Group, had failed to finish the society's redevelopment project despite repeated assurances.
As per the Petition, the society had entered into a Development Agreement with the developer in December 2013. A commencement certificate for the project was issued in January 2015, and the K.T. Group had agreed to complete the project in or before 28 months.
The developer, however, failed to complete the project within the stipulated time and also failed to make payments towards the agreed compensation. When the society approached Malad Police Station in September last year, the Senior Inspector informed it that this was a civil dispute, and did not take any action in the matter.
After the Court expressed its displeasure with the manner in which such complaints were being handled, the Senior Inspector of Malad Police Station now assured the Court that he shall look into the complaint and take necessary steps.
Posting the matter for 13 June, the Court then directed a copy of the order to be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone XI.