Pune: A special district court on Saturday remanded real estate developer DS Kulkarni (68) and his wife Hemanti (59) to seven-day police custody for cheating about 4,300 investors to the tune of Rs 325 crore.
After the Mumbai High Court on Friday vacated the interim protection granted to them, the Pune City Police Crime Branch’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) had been searching for the couple. They were caught at a hotel in Delhi around 5 am Saturday and brought to Pune by flight.
After a medical test, a team led by ACP Nilesh More produced the couple before the court of special judge JT Utpat amid heavy security around 6.30 pm. Though court hours was over, the judge and staff waited for this case. The courtroom was packed with lawyers and media persons besides police personnel.
While arguing for 10-day police custody, Special Public Prosecutor Praveen Chavan said, “They did not co-operate during their attendance as per the direction of the High Court. They have formed seven companies and launched investment schemes without requisite permissions. The companies accepted Rs 1,153. 76 crore from people, but the amount was diverted to account of DSK and his wife. He has obtained bank loans to the tune of Rs 2,892 crore against his 16 ongoing projects. Their custodial interrogation is required to find out details of their bank transactions and whether the money was diverted for other purposes. Also, documents pertaining to the procurement of loans from various banks needs to be investigated, to know whether nationalised banks flouted Reserve Bank of India’s norms in disbursing loans to his companies. His modus operandi smacks of scam like Nirav Modi.”
The prosecution submitted that people including hundreds of senior citizens had invested their hard earned money but neither did they get a house nor promised high returns on their investments. “DSK’s crime is worse than murder as he played with the sentiments of thousands of people,” they said.
On the other hand, defence lawyer Shrikant Shivde argued that DSK has already agreed to refund all money to investors. “But if he is put behind bars, he will not be able to return money. They will fully co-operate with the investigating agency. He has survived a road accident and suffers from various ailments. He should not be kept in the police custody. He has got three times more assets than the amount of liability,” Shivde argued.
After hearing both sides, the judge remanded the couple to seven-day police custody. The judge also allowed provision of medical facilities and meetings with lawyer to DSK in the police custody. An FIR was registered with Shivajinagar police station on October 28 last year against DSK and four other persons of his companies. The charges including cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Protection Of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act and sections of the Prize Chit and Money Circulation Banning Act.
According to the police, till February 16 this year, 4,114 people had invested
Rs 285.79 crore in various fixed deposit schemes floated by DSK. He had also taken Rs 39.41 crore unsecured loans from 180 investors. DSK has as many as 299 properties in Pune and one in Mumbai, the police said.
‘Don’t put in Faraskhana lock up’
† Defence lawyer Shivde requested the court to give direction to the police that DSK’s wife Hemanti should not be kept in the lock up at Faraskhana police station, citing various reasons including that women held from red light area, are kept there besides criminals who have committed various offences. The judge said that the police will decide and the cops said that there are also other lock ups in the city.