Custody of realtor Orbit Corp's chief Pujit Aggarwal extended

A vacation magistrate in Mumbai has extended the police custody of realty developer Orbit Corporation's managing director and chief executive Pujit Aggarwal until 16 September. Aggarwal was produced in court on Monday after being arrested last week under charges of cheating and violation of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flat Act, 1963.

Interestingly, the request for extension of Aggarwal's police custody was made by his own counsels.

He was arrested following a first information report filed by financial institution Capri Global Capital Ltd. The financial institution had bought three apartments in the builder's project Orbit Residency Park in the Andheri suburb of Mumbai for Rs2.55 crore in 2008. However, according to the FIR, the money was never deposited into an escrow account that was supposed to be maintained as part of the developer's agreement with its lender, LIC Housing Finance.

Around 30 individual homebuyers from the same project were also present in the court on Monday. This group of homebuyers met senior police officers at Azad Maidan Police Station to request that the probe be conducted by Economic Offences Wing (EOW).

"We have requested that his (Pujit Aggarwal's) passport be seized and the case should be moved to EOW since the nature of the crime is commercial. Also we have requested that our complaints be merged with that of Capri Global's FIR," said Roni Abraham, one of the aggrieved homebuyers of Orbit's project Orbit Residency Park.

Around 40 homebuyers, including the ones who were present in the court, had filed their respective complains against the builder in Sakinaka police station last year.

On Monday, Aggarwal's counsel also requested the metropolitan magistrate to allow a pillow and medicines for his chronic slipped disc. The magistrate allowed the pillow, while adding that the medicines can only be given under the supervision of government medical officer.

The Economic Offenses Wing of Mumbai police is already investigating one more case of Rs52 crore alleged cheating by Orbit Corporation and its directors Pujit Aggarwal and Ravikiran Aggarwal. The matter is related to an FIR filed in April 2016 by Capri Global Advisory Services, a promoter group company of financial institution Capri Global Capital Ltd.

Until 2008, Orbit Corporation was a leading builder in Mumbai with some prime south Mumbai properties under redevelopment, including a few bungalows. However, post the global financial crisis of 2008, the developer found it difficult to take most of its projects forward and defaulted on loan repayments.

In June 2015 following a default on loan repayment, LIC Housing Finance had put part of Orbit Corporation's several projects, including Orbit Residency, on block to recover its dues. LIC Housing Finance had taken possession of the property following the developer defaulting on loans worth 96 crore out of total dues of Rs250 crore. The lender had invited bids under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest price of Rs125 crore for the project.