Novelist Salman Rushdie has again courted controversy,this time for reasons not quite literary.
Police in Delhi are examining a criminal complaint filed against Rushdie,his sister Sameen Rushdie and his lawyers alleging that they accepted payments for the sale of a Civil Lines property and later backed out from the agreement.
In the complaint filed on October 17 at the Safdarjung Enclave police station,M/s Chopra Marketing Private Limited,a Delhi-based company,alleged that it had paid Rs 3.5 crore in cash and Rs 1 crore through bank drafts under an agreement for the sale of the house at 4,Flag Staff Road,Civil Lines.
The complainant,Naresh Chopra,alleged that Rushdie was not the rightful owner of the property since it was in the name of his sister Sameen but,through an attorney,entered into an agreement with him to sell the house.
Rushdies lawyer Vijay Shankar Dass admitted having received Rs 1 crore through bank drafts only but denied any transaction in cash.
We have not received a single penny in cash. We terminated the agreement about a year ago since certain conditions were not met, Dass said.
Mr Salman Rushdie does not want any association with Naresh Chopra and has never met or spoken to him, Dass said,adding that bankers had been instructed to remit the money.
Sandeep Ghai,SHO of Safdarjung Enclave,said: We have called the parties concerned and are examining the complaint.
According to the complaint filed with the police,three agreements,all for different considerations,were signed between Salman Rushdie and Chopra for the sale of 4,Flag Staff Road.
The complaint states that the amount that was originally decided upon and recorded in the agreement was Rs 8 crore. Lesser amounts were recorded in subsequent agreements between both parties.
The first agreement dated May 9,2005 was signed between Rushdie,through attorney H P Singh,and Chopra for a consideration of Rs 8 crore. Advance payment of Rs 25 lakh was paid to Singh – a receipt has been attached to the complaint. In his complaint,Chopra said an additional payment of Rs 1.75 crore was made in cash.
A second agreement,dated July 28,2005,was signed between Salman Rushdie,through attorney Singh,and Chopra,this time for reduced consideration of Rs 7 crore. The agreement recorded advance payment of Rs 1 crore with the balance Rs 6 crore to be paid later.
But Chopra complained that he made a payment of Rs 1.5 crore,of which two drafts of Rs 50 lakh each were credited into Salman Rushdies account. The complaint mentions the draft details: Draft No.129060,dated July 15,2005,drawn on Central Bank of India,Chandni Chowk Branch; Draft No. 922149,dated October 10,2005 drawn on State Bank of India,Rajpur Road,Delhi.
Chopras complaint alleges that another Rs 50 lakh was paid in cash to Rushdie through Vijay Shankar Dass,H P Singh and Sonal Joshi,all advocates.
By now,Rs 3.5 crore had already been paid to Rushdie via his lawyers,Chopra claimed.
The complaint goes on to state that a third agreement was signed on October 4,2005 between Salman Rushdie,through Dass and Singh,and Chopra for a consideration of Rs 5.50 crore. That agreement recorded advance payment of Rs 1 crore – the two drafts – and the balance Rs 4.5 crore to be paid later.
In 2008,another Rs 1 crore was paid in cash,Chopra claimed.
The complaint states that the balance payment was subject to disposal of an ongoing property dispute in Delhi High Court (RFA 11/1984 between the Rushdies and Bhiku Ram Jain). The matter,Dass said,was decided in Rushdies favour recently.
When The Sunday Express sought his comments,H P Singh said he was out of this deal and was willing to refund Rs 25 lakh to Chopra if he so desired. Asked about the three agreements,Singh declined comment.
Vijay Shankar Dass said only one agreement was signed and subsequently terminated. Asked about the agreements for reduced consideration,Dass said,We have nothing to do with those agreements. Those were signed with H P Singh and Sonal Joshi.
There were certain conditions attached to the original sale agreement,and a court case was pending which has been decided in our favour, Dass said.
Asked about the alleged misrepresentation since Salman Rushdie was not the owner of the property,Dass said: These are issues concerning legal heirs and there is no question of falsification of facts. We are honourable people.