The Bombay High Court has directed the Commissioner of Police (CP) to take immediate steps to trace the whereabouts of two builders – Rajen Dhruv and Hiren Dhruv – of Orbit Ventures after the duo absconded instead of surrendering before the court on Friday to serve their six months civil imprisonment for contempt of court.
A division bench of Justices KR Shriram and Arif Saleh Doctor on Friday, while directing the CP to take immediate steps, asked the concerned banks and financial institutions to freeze accounts of these builders.
The HC on Thursday had asked them to surrender on Friday to enforce their six months’ civil imprisonment for failing to honour their undertaking given to the court on March 23.
“The Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, is therefore directed to immediately take steps to trace the whereabouts of these two persons and arrest them wherever they are found and present them before this court. This order should be treated as a non-bailable warrant against Respondent Nos.2 (Rajen) and 3 (Hiren),” noted the HC in its detailed 16-page order.
The court further asked the CP to “inform all Airports Authorities and Immigration Authorities in India to place a lookout notice against the duo and detain these two persons wherever they found”.
As per court instructions, Axis Finance, represented by counsels Venkatesh Dhond, Rashmin Khandekar and Nishit Dhruva, provided Rajen and Hiren’s bank account details. The HC has asked Axis Finance Limited to “inform all those banks/NBFCs to freeze those bank accounts relying on this order”.
“All those banks/NBFCs so informed by the petitioner shall immediately freeze those accounts including debit/credit cards, if any,” said the court adding: “Similarly Petitioner to inform CDSL and NSDL to freeze all the Demat accounts”.
On Friday, counsel for the builders, Firoz Bharucha, Kiran Jain and Duj Jain, informed the HC that the duo has absconded. The counsels informed that they are unable to trace them and that their mobile numbers are switched off.
“Mr Bharucha states he is embarrassed in as much as Respondent No.2 (Rajen) and 3 (Hiren) have both absconded. Mr Bharucha says that he has no instructions on their whereabouts. Mr Jain also says the same thing,” noted the HC in its order while allowing Bharucha to withdraw from the case.
On Thursday, the HC refused to grant more time to the builders observing: “There is no sign of money and we are satisfied looking at the past conduct of these respondents, that they have been only abusing the indulgence granted by the court with no intention of honouring the undertakings given to the court.” Hence, the HC has asked them to surrender on Friday.
On March 23 this year, the HC had sentenced them to six months of civil imprisonment after finding them guilty under the Contempt of Court Act for wilful disobedience of its earlier orders.
The orders were passed following a dispute between Orbit Venture Developers and Axis Finance Ltd. The court had, however, suspended their sentence after they gave an undertaking that they will repay Rs 102 crore in six instalments beginning March 31. They had even given an undertaking that they would not create third-party rights in several flats in their project in Swarvoski Apartments in Khar West.
The HC was hearing a plea filed by Axis Finance for recovery of Rs 163 crore from Orbit with 16.25 per cent interest per year from January 1, 2021, till payment is done.
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