The Bombay High Court Tuesday reserved its order on the anticipatory bail plea of Deepak Sakharam Kulkarni and his wife Hemanti of the DSK Group for February 22. Kulkarni and his wife have been accused of cheating 2,774 investors to the tune of over Rs 200 crore. Kulkarni’s lawyer Ashok Mundargi told the court that the group would be submitting a demand draft of Rs 12 crore in the name of the registrar of the High Court. He said the money would come from the Buldhana Cooperative Bank that would purchase a plot of land owned by the DSK Group near Pune. Justice S S Jadhav told the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) prosecutor to relax the conditions for registration so that the money could be distributed at the earliest.
Justice Jadhav said the group should distribute this Rs 12 crore among the needy investors. She also said people — like the person who appeared before the court during the last hearing on February 5 and said he needed money for his son’s surgery — should get priority. The court also rapped the Kulkarnis’ lawyers for going back on their assurances. The court said it had been waiting for Rs 50 crore for three weeks and it would not be fair to expect the investors to accept any more assurances.
Mundargi informed the court that the total payable amount including unpaid interest was Rs 232 crore. He also said Kulkarni and his wife had visited the police station as ordered by the court, besides recording their statement and furnishing documents and a computer hard disk for the purpose of investigation.
The court was choc-a-bloc with investors when Kulkarni and his wife appeared Tuesday. One of the investors, who had brought his son on a wheelchair, raised his hand to speak. Justice Jadhav reprimanded him for bringing his wheelchair-bound son to court and said she was going out of her way to ensure the investors got back their money. She also said she had asked the accused to come before the court because “this is more humiliating than going to the police station in their posh cars”.
The additional public prosecutor appearing for the EOW sought perjury charges against Dilip Arvind Parbhune, the managing director of a sister concern of DSK Group, for filing an affidavit before the court on details of the wire transfer that had been confirmed by the OCBC Bank of Singapore, and claiming that the money would be realised after clearance by the Reserve Bank of India as required for such transfers from abroad. The court said it would decide on the matter in its final orders.
A police officer privy to details of the probe said, “Since their statements are being recorded, we have been asking D S Kulkarni and his wife to hand over to us certain documents related to the case. But they have not done so in spite of repeated demands. They keep promising that the documents will be submitted, but it has not happened. The High Court has been informed about the non-cooperation. We have also started recording the statement of their son Shirish.”
There are at least three FIRs, filed by different depositors, registered against the company and its top executives. Following a complaint lodged by one Jitendra Narayan Mulekar (65) of Kothrud, an FIR was lodged against the couple at the Shivajinagar police station on October 28 under Indian Penal Code sections for cheating and criminal conspiracy and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act and the Prize Chit and Money Circulation Banning Act. Two more FIRs were subsequently registered.
The couple had been questioned by EOW officials every day for over five days ending Monday, as per the HC directions. They were questioned on the housing schemes floated by them, under which the large number of people invested money.
The couple, while getting protection from arrest, had told the HC in December that they would deposit Rs 50 crore, a promise the company has not been able to fulfill until now. In a press conference held in Pune recently, Kulkarni has said the company would launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for his beleaguered business. Kulkarni has maintained from the beginning that there has been no wrongdoing on part of the company.