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Wadia business clan booked for fraud and cheating in land deal case

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 29 May 2017, 20:25 IST
(Umesh Goswami/The India Today Group/Getty Images)

Mumbai's famous Wadia business family, which owns Bombay Dyeing and GoAir, among other businesses, is in trouble.

Members of the family – Nusli, Maureen and their sons Ness and Jehangir – have been booked for fraud and cheating in a case related to a land deal owned by the FE Dinshaw Trust, which is run by the family.

Case history

The case relates to a plot of land in Mumbai's Malad East area, which is currently worth around Rs 15.5 crore at current market rates.

Two brothers from Malad, Abdul Wahid Khan and Safirullah Khan, approached the Borivali private case court, alleging that the FE Dinshaw Trust, run by the Wadia family, had fudged documents for the plot of land, which the Khan brothers had bought from the trust in 1992 through a tender process.

As per the FIR registered at Kurar police station in Mumbai, a copy of which is in Catch's possession, Abdul Wahid Khan told the police that the FE Dinshaw Trust invited tenders for the sale of land at Gokuldham, Pimpri Pada Road, Malad, in February 1992.

Abdul Wahid Khan (Photo: Ashwin Aghor)
Abdul Wahid Khan's FIR (Photo: Ashwin Aghor)
Photo: Ashwin Aghor

“As per the tender conditions, my brother and I paid the amount of Rs 6.25 lakh for the 3,791 sq m portion of the land, bearing survey number 267 and CTS Number 610. Since our bid was the highest for the plot, it was awarded to us. But when there was no official communication from the office of the Charitable Commissioner, I started enquiring about it. To my shock, it was revealed that land was handed over to Becharam Gupta, the second highest bidder, for Rs 7.50 lakh. Since it was a case of cheating, we moved the Bombay High Court, and the matter was decided in our favour. As per the orders of the Bombay High Court, we even paid the difference of Rs 1.25 lakh to the FE Dinshaw Trust. But the land was not transferred in our name,” Abdul Wahid Khan said in the FIR.

Khan alleged that the officials at the FE Dinshaw Trust demanded permission from the state government under the ULC Act for the transfer of land in his name, which he got in 2007.

“Despite fulfilling all their requirements, the Trust officials continued to delay the transfer of the land on some pretext or the other. They delayed it for more than three years, saying that some of the trustees were out of India,” the FIR said.

This continued till 2014, and when Khan asked for the land to be transferred again, he received a shock when Trust officials told him that his brother Safirullah Khan had sold the land back to the trust for Rs 2.13 crore.

Photo: Ashwin Aghor
Photo: Ashwin Aghor
Photo: Ashwin Aghor

“The letter had forged signatures of my brother. Someone had printed letterheads in his name and forged his signature to forego the right on the land. The Trust officials also produced a document bearing my forged signature, which said I would forego the right on the land in exchange for Rs 3.75 crore,” Khan told the police.

He also alleged that Trust officials asked for bribe of Rs 50 lakh to get the land ownership transferred in his name. They also threatened to kill Abdul Wahid Khan.

Legal proceedings

After the incident, Abdul Wahid Khan initiated legal proceedings against the Trust.

He moved the Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Borivali and filed a case against the FE Dinshaw Trust. After hearing the matter, the court ordered the Mumbai Police to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

As per the court orders, offence has been registered against Ness Wadia, his parents Nusli and Maureen Wadia, his brother Jehangir Wadia and other officials of the Trust under sections 465, 467, 468, 384, 420, 506 (2) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

When contacted, LT Vanmane, senior police inspector of Kurar police station, said the police had registed an FIR.

“We will investigate the role and involvement of the Wadia family and then take action,” said Vanmane.

Photo: Ashwin Aghor

Meanwhile, the FE Dinshaw Trust has alleged ulterior motives on the part of the Khan brothers.

“This proceeding has been initiated with ulterior motive, as the Charity Commissioner by an order dated 13th April 2017 rejected the application of the complainant by observing that the transaction between the complainant and the Trust is a pure Civil Dispute,” said a spokesperson for the Trust.

“Allegations in the FIR are baseless with malicious intention. The Trust is seeking advice to look into the matter and will take appropriate steps as advised to the Trust. The Trust has full faith in our judicial system.”

First published: 29 May 2017, 20:25 IST