VIPs hired ‘fake suits’ gang to grab prime Bengaluru properties: CID probe

An alleged gang which obtained “fake decrees” from small-causes courts to illegally grab properties — by forging documents and creating a fictitious rental dispute between a “fake owner” and a “fake tenant” — was also hired by politically connected persons to grab some prime properties in Bengaluru, according to a probe by the state CID.

The evictions racket with as many 118 cases, allegedly involving the same set of lawyers and fake litigants, was unearthed last year following the intervention of the Karnataka High Court in a case filed by Shah Harilal Bhikabhai and Company, a private firm against whom an eviction order was obtained by putting up fake tenants and owners for a north Bengaluru property in a local court.

The High Court ordered an in-depth probe into the evictions racket and the state government handed the investigation to the state CID earlier this year.

So far, the CID has filed 60 FIRs over the evictions racket. It has found that some of the 118 cases, filed in the small-causes court to obtain fake decrees, involved “VIPs”’ who hired the “fake suits” operatives to grab disputed prime properties.

The CID is yet to file FIRs in cases involving “VIPs” but case documents in at least one 2018 case involving a former MP associated with both the Congress and BJP has been seized in connection with the probe.

“The entire record of this case is seized and preserved as per the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka,” states an October 7 order of a small-causes court in a “fake decree” case identified by the CID as involving the alleged gang after their services were hired. The former MP is linked to as many as four cases identified as being part of the “fake decrees” racket.

“The CID is yet to file FIRs in cases involving politicians and VIPs who used the gang to claim prime properties. The preliminary probe has revealed the involvement of VIPs. The CID is currently pursuing cases where evictions have been attempted or executed by the gang itself. The probe is being conducted in a step-by-step manner,” said sources familiar with the investigations.

Investigators estimate that properties worth several hundreds of crores were grabbed by VIPs and others by using the services of the alleged gang.

“A large number of properties targeted by the gang at the behest of VIPs are located in east Bengaluru in places like Krishnarajapuram, Benson Town, Banaswadi. The properties targeted in these areas measured up to 20,000 square feet when the property price was around Rs 5000 per sq ft. The gang was paid around Rs 70 lakh for facilitating a fake decree,” police sources said.

The modus operandi of the alleged gang was to create a fake rental agreement — for a targeted property — between a fake owner and a fake tenant and to file a case in the small-causes court for eviction of the “tenant”. The court would then be informed that the litigants had reached a compromise and that the “tenant” had agreed to leave the property. This was done to obtain a court decree directing the “tenant” to leave the property as agreed. Using the “fake decree”, the alleged gang would then seek police support and evict whoever was in possession of the targeted property.

It is alleged that this racket began in 2013 with disputed properties being targeted at the behest of those cut off from property rights. The alleged gang later moved to obtaining “fake decrees” for anyone hiring them, sources said.

Properties belonging to the Bengaluru city corporation have also been targeted by the alleged gang. An official of the BBMP filed an FIR on September 4 about an attempt to grab a property in central Bengaluru through the gang. The CID has taken up this case for investigation with 60 other cases.

The High Court continues to monitor investigations into the “fake decrees” racket and the CID presented a probe update to the court in a sealed cover on November 16. The High Court has directed the CID to “complete the investigation expeditiously” and to submit a status report.

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