The Temple Rose group is the latest to cheat people through by luring investors into buying land and selling the same plots twice - once as non-agriculture (NA) and then again as agricultural land, through a group company.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the police, which is investigating the scam, believes that the Temple Rose fraud may be as big as Rs400 crore and involve 12,000 investors.
Temple Rose Livestock Farming Pvt Ltd (TRLFPL) bought around 176 hectors of land in Pingori village during 2010 and 2011 (Sale deed no 4864/2010, 4865/2010 & 2978/2011). This land was sold as agricultural land to Mumbai-based investors Sharmila Joshi, Nipa Chithalia, Dooria Bahrainwala , Narayan Parmar, Biman Das, Rajesh Gandhi, Husaini Bahrainwala, Dilipkumar Chhajed, Ashraf Bahrainwala, Suresh Shiwale and Pravin Thorve.
Meanwhile, Temple Rose Real Estate Pvt Ltd (TRREPL), from the same group, sold around 5,294 plots of the same land to another set of investors on the claim that there were 'proposed Non Agriculture (NA)' plots. It has also uploaded the names of the plot purchasers on its website, however there is no sale deed registered with the Department of Registration. Pingori village in Purandar taluka of Pune district is surrounded by hillocks from three sides. Almost 80% of the land is a hilly terrain and hence cannot developed into a township, or for residential/industrial purposes. Temple Rose Livestock Farming purchased this land to breed livestock and sold the entire piece of land for agriculture purpose!
The Temple Rose group has deceived many investors through its Pingori project and others and has worked on a similar modus operandi multiple times. The EoW has also registered a Rs90 crore investment fraud case against Temple Rose Real Estate in yet another case. This could also be a collective investment scheme that ought to attract the attention of the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), since the value of the scam is over Rs 100 crore.
Both Temple Rose Real Estate and Temple Rose Livestock Farming have the same set of directors, but they are clearly different companies. The Real Estate unit cannot possibly divided up the land owned by the live stock farming unit and sell it to investors as individual plots. So you have the absurd situation where Temple Rose Real Estate claims to have sold all the plots on a piece of land as NA for building exclusive Thai and Spanish Villas, while Temple Rose Livestock Farming, a sister concern, had sold land itself (entire 176 hectors) to other persons for agriculture.
In another case of cheating, five directors, including three family members of Temple Rose Real Estate have been booked for promising investors to double their money by giving land papers as surety. The EOW has filed a first information report (FIR) against Devidas Sajnani, his wife Vanita, daughter Deepa and two others, Keshav Iddya and Markas Thorat.
Some directors against whom the FIR is lodged are also directors in other group companies. They include Temple Rose Construction Pvt Ltd, Temple Rose Marketing Pvt Ltd, Temple Rose Fresh Produce Pvt Ltd, Temple Rose InfoTech Pvt, Ltd, LHS Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Shri Ramgiri Sugars Pvt Ltd.
Interestingly, retired police inspector Bhausaheb Andhalkar, an accused in the murder of Satish Shetty, an RTI activist, is former director of one of Shri Ramgiri Sugars. Satish Shetty was social activist, noted for exposing many land scams in Maharashtra. Mr Shetty is believed to have been murdered after he used the RTI Act to expose irregularities in Government offices. He was killed on 13 January 2010 near Pune. Recently, there was a dubious attempt to have information about this case wiped clean from various websites including Moneylife by a person claiming to be Mr Shetty's wife, when the activist had died a bachelor.
It is unfortunate that so many people fall prey to dubious investment companies because of greed and the eagerness to make quick money. Some companies do not own single square foot of land anywhere but offer to sell land online. They do not display survey numbers of the land nor do they register sale deed with appropriate authority. Some companies may actually possess a plot of land but they end up cheating people by selling the same piece of land to hundreds of persons.
Among the fraudsters operating in this space are companies who assure investors that their money would double and hand over some land papers as a form of surety. These are meaningless pieces of paper if there is no sale deed registered in the name of the buyer, with a properly demarcated land and survey number listed. People need to learn not to fall for their attractive online presence, lavish offices and smart sales representatives who are only a means to lure the gullible and cheat them. Unfortunately, buyers are either ignorant about the rules or unconcerned about compliance and end up losing money.
What is the remedy if you have been cheated by such as scam? Vijay Kumbhar, who conducts a very popular RTI group meeting every Sunday morning, intends to discuss the case and future course of action this Sunday, 29 January 2017 at Pune. This is held at Chittaranjan Vatika, Model colony, Shivajinagar, Pune Time: 9.30am to 10.30am. The RTI Katta is an informal platform to learn the use of RTI, the tool to fight causes that directly affect the citizens. RTI Katta is held every Sunday in Pune.
(Pune-based Vijay Kumbhar is one of the leading RTI activists and have exposed several frauds)