Victims who lost money due to Bengaluru real estate startup Homigo were granted two weeksâ€™ time on Friday by the Karnataka High Court to oppose the startup's contention that a probe by the Central Crime Branch of the city police against the company and its founders be dropped. This after the advocate representing the accused approached the HC pleading that the case be treated as a civil case and hence the police probe should be dropped.
Representatives from the victimsâ€™ side said they will push for the police probe to continue even though the victims are unhappy with the slow pace of the investigation. â€śOur lawyer is hopeful that we have a strong case. It will be really bad for us if the criminal case is dropped. There is no way then that we will get our money back,â€ť Vikrant*, one of the victims told TNM.
Officials of the City Crime Branch could not be reached for a comment.
It may be recalled that the case was handed over to the CCB by then City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar after multiple cases were registered against the company in various police stations in the city.
Homigo worked on a model where they leased properties or apartments and sub-leased it to a customer after furnishing, by charging a premium. The company had raised funding from multiple investors such as Mebelkart and Livespace. It was operating close to 30 properties across the city.
The scam had come to light when many residents living in Homigo properties were suddenly asked to vacate their homes overnight as the company defaulted on their payments to the original property owners.
Since then all the three founders â€” Jatin Mitruka, Aaskash Verma and Nikunj Bathejaâ€”all alumni of IIT-Kanpur, continue to remain absconding. Their plea for anticipatory bail had also been rejected.
In addition to losing their homes, the tenants were also at risk of losing their deposit and lease money. Security deposits up to Rs 50,000â€“ and for some, lease amounts to the tune of lakhs â€“ continue to be stuck with Homigo. Other than these residents, Homigo has allegedly defaulted on paying its own employees and blue collar staff contractors.
While now, many of the customers who were on rental basis have moved away from the case, those who stayed on lease are still caught in this legal tangle.
â€śFor those who were staying in rent, the security deposit being two months rent, they went for a compromise with the original owners by staying one month or a little more for free. But our money, in total of Rs 20 crore is stuck,â€ť Vikrant said.