By LE Desk

Mumbai, April 21: Anant Singhania, son of Ajaypath Singhania, has approached the sessions court, challenging the process issued by a magistrate court on the complaint of Raymond Limited for not vacating the office premises at New Hind House in Mumbai.

The dispute over the possession of some part of the first floor of the building by Anant and his brother Akshaypath arose in September 2016, when the brothers were restrained by the security guard of the company from entering the premises.

The company has also filed a suit before the small causes court asking the brothers to vacate the premises, the Hindustan Times reported.

While the suit is still pending, the company on September 19, 2019, filed a private complaint before the metropolitan magistrate court, Ballard Estate, seeking criminal action against the two under section 452 of the Companies Act for wrongfully withholding the property of the company.

In the complaint, the company claimed that, on September 20, 2016, the brothers were restrained by the officers of the company due to security reasons and they were asked to wait outside the premises for some time.

The company alleged that the brother, however, approached the police and it was only after the intervention of the officials of the company the matter was resolved.

The company claimed that by a letter dated September 21, 2016, the company revoked, cancelled and withdrew the license and possession granted to the brothers to use the premises and asked them to vacate the premises.

On the complaint of the company, the court had directed the MRA Marg police to investigate the matter and submit the report.

Anant in his revision application before the session’s court said that they learnt about the criminal complaint only on March 4, 2020, when they received a letter from the MRA Marg police station. He claimed that when his lawyers contacted the officers on March 6, 2020, they were informed that the report on the investigation was already submitted.

The report by the police, as per the reply of the company to Anant’s petition, was submitted on March 13, last year.

However, due to the pandemic, the case was not heard until late 2020. The magistrate court relying on the report of the police and the contention of the company issued process to initiate proceedings against Anant and Akshaypath on January 14.

Anant has challenged the summons before the sessions court on March 11 claiming, the court failed to consider that they were not heard by the officer who investigated the case.

Anant has claimed that his father used the premises from 1960 onwards till his demise till 1992 and after him, his wife – mother of Anant Veenadevi occupied the premises till date. He further claimed that around 1986, his brother Akshaypat joined the family business and in 1994 he was appointed as one of the directors of the company. Later in 1995, Anant joined the business and was appointed director in August 2000.

Anant claimed that he along with his brother Akshaypat resigned from the directorship of the company in 2008, under an arrangement that arrived between his uncle Vijaypat Singhania and his son Gautam Singhania. They claimed that in return it was agreed that they would receive some shares of the company and also other benefits which included the permanent license and possession and use of the premises by Anant and Akshaypat for their independent business.

Anant claimed, that suddenly on September 20, 2016, they were restrained the brothers from using the said premises. They called the police for restraining them but the matter was settled and they did not press for the criminal charges against the directors of the company including Gautam.

Anant claimed that they were shocked when they first came to know about the suit filed by the company in December 2016 before the small causes court asking brothers to vacate the premises and subsequently a criminal complaint against them in 2019.

It is claimed in the revision petition, that the magistrate failed to see on record that the investigating officer did not grant time to them to come and record any statement and also failed to consider records of the proceedings of the small causes court.

The company recently submitted a reply to Anant petition. The company has claimed that ‘neither the accused have provided any document showing their alleged right to occupy the premises of the Company nor vacated the premises owned by the company.’

The company claimed, “The accused persons were permitted to use the premises in question only on a gratuitous basis and there was no agreement of any kind whatsoever authorising the accused persons to remain in possession of the premises. It is impermissible for the accused to wrongfully withheld the property of the company.”

“The accused persons cannot be permitted access and movement in the office of the complainant-company as there is serious threat and apprehension regarding the security and confidentiality of the complainant company’s business, books and documents. Thus, by continuing to illegally occupy the premises belonging to the complainant-company, the accused persons have made themselves liable to be convicted under section 452 of the Companies Act, 2013,” reads the reply submitted by the company to Anant’s petition.

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