Updated: February 16, 2021 11:10:30 am
NEARLY THREE months after the Maharashtra Home Department ordered an inquiry to find out if an FIR was made out against Prakash Chhabria, owner of Finolex Industries, based on a complaint by his cousin Deepak, a case was registered against him earlier this month.
The Home department probe also recommended a departmental inquiry against the police commissioner of Pimpri Chinchwad for not registering an FIR in the case last year.
Finolex Cables, Finolex Plasson and Finolex Industries are all part of the storied Pune-based Finolex group of companies founded in 1958 by Pralhad Chhabria and his younger brother Kishandas. The brothers, who hailed from Karachi in Pakistan, had come to Amritsar in 1945 and moved to Pune two years later to make a living. They started out as door to door salesmen of electric supplies before they started Finolex Cables — the flagship company of the group — in 1958.
As per the inquiry report, 82.07 per cent of the shares in Orbit Electricals Pvt Ltd — the holding company that controls both Finolex Industries and Finolex Cables — were held by Pralhad. As per his will dated 15/10/2014 that was kept by his daughter Aruna Katara, his son Prakash was to get 34 per cent, Aruna 20 per cent, Kishandas’ sons Deepak and Vijay 29 and 17 per cent respectively.
Two months before Pralhad’s death in May 2016, a gift deed prepared on March 28, 2016 transferred 70.4 per cent (100300 shares) of Orbit Electricals to Prakash. At a subsequent board meeting three days later, it was resolved that the shares be transferred to Prakash.
Deepak alleged that the gift deed and related documents were forged and the transfer of shares led to disproportionate holding in the name of Prakash and had the effect of wrongfully depriving Deepak of control of Finolex Cables Limited.
Following this, Deepak approached the Pimpri Chinchwad police on March 3, 2020 after unsuccessfully knocking on the doors of civil courts in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune for a resolution. The complaint before the police alleged cheating and forgery against his cousin Prakash Chhabria. The Economic Offences Wing of the Pimpri Chinchwad police, however, closed the complaint on October 10 saying it did not have enough grounds for an FIR to be registered.
Later in October, the Maharashtra Home Department sent a letter to IPS DG (Home Guards) Sanjay Pandey asking him to conduct an inquiry in the matter. The inquiry was challenged by Prakash-led Finolex Industries. One of the issues in the writ petition was that the mandate of Home Guards was mainly to cater to emergencies like natural disasters and those in the force were not considered police officers as defined under the Bombay Police Act, 1951 and hence did not have the right of investigation. The matter is pending in the Bombay High Court.
Documents seen by The Indian Express show that Pandey submitted two reports to the Home department, in December 2020 and January 2021 respectively — the first dealing with whether there was enough evidence warranting the registration of an FIR, and the second on police failure to act when the first complaint came in against Chhabria.
An initial inquiry report submitted by Pandey on December 3, 2020 concluded that an offence was made out and “Pimpri Chinchwad police not only delayed any action based on the complaint but also tried to close a complaint without taking any action on untenable grounds.”
On February 6, two months after the report was submitted, an FIR was registered against Prakash and four others at the Chaturshringi police station in Pune city. Deepak’s lawyer Kailash Ghumre, however, said that the FIR was not a result of the inquiry by Pandey.
A statement released by family spokesperson of Prakash Chhabria earlier said, “We have given to understand that the Pune Police have registered a FIR against Prakash Chhabria and his colleagues on the basis of a complaint by Deepak Chhabria. The family dispute instigated by Deepak is going on since the demise of Prakash Chhabria’s father in 2016… This FIR has been registered… with malicious intent and the objective of harassment. Being a responsible citizen of this country, they have complete faith in the legal system. We are in the process of defending his rights and taking appropriate steps to deal with this false, baseless and unjust prosecution.”
Pandey sent a final inquiry report on January 18, that looked at the Pimpri Chinchwad police delay in registering the FIR, and concluded there was dereliction of duty with mala fide intent on the part of Krishna Prakash, who took over as Pimpri Chinchwad police commissioner in September last year.
“In view of this, it is recommended that Krishna Prakash be departmentally inquired as per the provisions of All India Service Rules for above defaults,” says the report.
When contacted Prakash said, “The initial complaint took place before I took over as the Pimpri Chinchwad police commissioner. The decision to close the case was taken by the Investigating Officer of the case and was approved by the ACP, DCP and additional CP and seeing no reasons to contradict their findings, I signed on it.”
When contacted, Pandey refused to comment on the issue. An official from the Maharashtra Home Department confirmed that the inquiry report had been received but refused to comment on the further course of action.
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