Mumbai Local

‘Auction of Dawood property a tamasha’

Centre trying to sell the don’s properties without guaranteeing possession, says Delhi lawyer

Delhi lawyer Ajay Shrivastava, who is one of the two buyers who purchased an auctioned Dawood property but never got possession of it, has accused the Centre of trying to auction the don’s properties without guaranteeing possession of the properties to those risking their lives to bid in the auction.

Mr. Shrivastava was scheduled to leave for Mumbai on Tuesday to participate in Wednesday’s auction and bid for Hotel Raunak Afroz, an eatery linked to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but has now opted out, leaving only former journalist S. Balakrishnan as the lone bidder in the fray as the bids were closed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I had come for the inspection of Hotel Raunak Afroz on December 3, and was about to fly to Mumbai today with a Rs. 30 lakh demand draft, but I have now decided to opt out. Neither the competent authority of SAFEMA nor the auctioneer could tell me categorically if they can give me possession of the property,” Mr. Shrivastava told The Hindu on phone from New Delhi.

Still fighting case

“Both told me that they can process the documents of the property, but the auction is on “as is here is” basis. If the government cannot ensure that possession of a property, why should anyone invest his or her money into this? I have purchased a Dawood property in the past, but I am still fighting a case for last 15 years to get possession of the property. Why would I do it again if nobody is guaranteeing me possession of the property,” said an anguished and angry Shrivastava, who is a lawyer by profession, and also has links with the Delhi unit of the Shiv Sena.

Mr. Shrivastava accused the Central government of making a “mockery” of “serious bidders” like him. “I went all the way from Delhi on December 3 for the scheduled inspection of the property, and they did not even open the shop shutter and show me the full property. I had my doubts then where they have possession of the property. When my doubts got confirmed, I decided not to participate,” he said.

Legitimate concerns

Mr. Shrivastava’s concerns are legitimate. In an auction held on March 28, 2001, he had emerged as the sole bidder, and purchased a Dawood property for the reserve price of Rs. 2.5 lakh, but he never got the possession of the property. “Dawood Ibrahim’s sister Haseena Parkar was in possession of this property on behalf of his brother. After she refused to give me possession, I filed a case in Small Causes Court, and the court ruled in my favour in 2010. She went in appeal against the court order, and subsequently passed away. Now her children are fighting the case. Fifteen years later, I am still fighting the case,” he said.

Mr. Shrivastava said if the government wanted to encourage people to buy such properties, they should ensure not only the possession of such properties, but offer a loan or subsidy to purchase these. “If you are giving a car loan, home loan, then why can’t they give a loan to bidders who brave underworld threats to purchase such a property. Since the reserve price of this hotel was Rs. 1.18 crore, I approached two banks who almost agreed to give me a loan. But, they backed out when they learnt that the property belongs to Dawood,” Mr. Shrivastava said.

“By doing this tamasha of auctions, the government is only increasing the nuisance value of Dawood who is an absconder and a terrorist. Why should serious buyers like me, who brave threats from Chhota Shakeel on one hand and intense family pressure on the other, participate in such auctions,” he said.

With Mr. Shrivastava backing out, former journalist S. Balakrishnan appears to be the sole bidder for the Dawood property. “It is a national shame that these properties seized by the government are not getting sold. I have submitted my bid only to send out a strong message that this can be done. But, I was disappointed when officials did not open the locks and show me the property. So, I am taking a blind chance without being shown the property,” Mr. Balakrishnan said, adding that if he wins the bid, he would set up a computer teaching institute to educate youngsters falling prey to drug addiction and crime in the Bhendi Bazaar area.

Auction of car

Apart from Mr. Balakrishnan, at least six bidders have submitted bids in the open auction for the Hyundai Accent car. Among them is the national president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha Swami Chakramani.

Asked repeatedly if they were sure that the Hyundai car was a Dawood property, Swamiji’s colleague Dr. Indira Tiwari, secretary-general of the Mahasabha, said, “We were told verbally that it is a Dawood property and that’s why we are bidding. We were not shown any documents to prove the ownership.”

When The Hindu raised this question with the auctioneer Ashvin & Co and the SAFEMA Competent Authority, both refused to disclose the ownership of the other six properties. “All we can tell you is the owners of all properties are different,” said an official in SAFEMA’s Nariman Point office.

The auction will be conducted in three formats. “E-auction will allow global bidders to bid for the properties. At 4 p.m. tomorrow [Wednesday], sealed tenders submitted will be opened,” a SAFEMA official said.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 1:04:25 PM |

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