April 23, 2017
A lower court in Coimbatore has ordered the city police to probe further into the alleged fraudulent practices and forged documents submitted by former members of the 125 year old Cosmopolitan Club and its management.
City magistrate’s court had handed out a stinging rebuke to the local police for its shoddy investigations into the FIR filed against J Ravi and GD Gopalakrishnan, currently the Joint Secretary and Vice President respectively of the club for allegedly submitting forged documents for seeking permission for construction of a guest house in the club premises.
The magistrate’s court had on March 24, 2017 directed the police to investigate the matter properly and submit a report within three months. However, according to the petitioner, Mr RV Sudarshan, the police had not yet made much progress even after one month of the court order.
The petitioner had filed his complaint against the former members of Cosmopolitan Club, backed by RTI reply from the Urban Tax Department, issued by Information Officer and Settlement Tahsildar, V Vijayalakshmi, which confirmed that the department had not issued the Survey Extract and Survey sketch that were submitted by the former office bearers to the Corporation and LPA for approval. The RTI reply had also stated that “there were no related files in the department”.
On a previous occasion, the Madras High Court had pulled up the Coimbatore police for its slow investigations into forgery of documents. On July 13, 2016, the Madras High Court had also questioned the investigating officers as to why the probe into the whole affairs was proceeding slowly.
The Coimbatare Cosmopolitan Club is one of the landmarks of the city, located on a 4.027 acre plot. It was started by a few well- meaning Indians 125 years back with the idea of giving Indians their own meeting place, since English Club did not permit Indians.
The case has its origins in a decision of the office bearers taken in 2011 to finalise a plan to build a guest house at a cost of about Rs.2-3 Crores which later escalated to Rs.7 crores.
The main hurdle to the plan was that it did not have the approval of the General body and further any plan proposed in the Club grounds would entail a loss of 40 Cents of land as OSR requirements.
The petitioner alleged that the office bearers had allegedly submitted forged documents and sketches to show that the 4.027 acres of land, as subdivided into two plots and the smaller plot of about 2427.97 Sq mtrs, alone belonged to the club.
The petitioner further alleged that on the basis of these documents, the then Member Secretary of the Local Planning Authority in Coimbatore sanctioned the plan in under 37 days from the date of submission.
The then Secretary of the Club also exceeded his authority and gave an undertaking to the TPA that the old building would be pulled down. A few members of the club smelled rat and immediately moved the authorities to withdraw permission for guest house.
The permission was withdrawn but in the process about Rs.65 lakhs of the Club funds were siphoned off by dubious procedures in awarding contract for the building, it was alleged.
Allegations by few other members said that attempt to silence the detractors with threats. Meanwhile, an internal inquiry has revealed that a fraud was committed.
A section of the club members wonder as to why most of the 1100 members of the club remained silent spectators and turned a blind eye to this alleged fraud.
One of the members of the club Mr Sudarshan formally complained to the police on 30th October 2015 alleging large scale misappropriation and deceptive practices played by the office bearers of the club.
On the same day, the respondent police registered a First Information Report in Crime No: 70/2015 for offences under Sections 120(B), 465,466,468 and 471 IPC. The investigation was initially carried out by Inspector Muthumalai of Cyber Crime Cell, who started with great fervour and was transferred during the State Assembly Election. Later the case was transferred to Inspector Chandrasekar of Central Crime Branch.
This officer , said to be an upright officer, allegedly sat on the file and after prodding by the High Court carried out a cursory investigation and closed the file, a section of the club members said.
The Joint Secretary the Club J Ravi when contacted by Covai Post said that he had nothing to say on the issue.