Tennis - Tianjin Open - Women's singles final - Tianjin, China - October 15, 2017 - Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after winning the match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC1C81EE4450
The court of chief metropolitan magistrate in North West Delhi has made tennis star Maria Sharapova a party to a complaint by a homebuyer, who invested in a luxury housing project in Gurgaon endorsed by and named after the Russian and for which construction never took off.
The court has named Sharapova in the complaint list and has ordered an FIR against her and the companies Homestead Infrastructure Development Private Limited, Homestead Infrastructure Maintenance Private Limited and Homestead Arabic Homes Private and its directors.
The homebuyer, Bhawana Agarwal (44), filed a complaint in Delhi court, through her lawyer Piyush Singh and informed the court that the builders attracted buyers by advertising the project as ‘Ballet by Sharapova’.
The complainant said that “she was lured by showing that Maria Sharapova had endorsed the residential flats. The brochure of the respondent company shows the proposed tennis academy in the project and commercial space for clothings and sportwear.”
She claims that the company cheated her of her hard-earned money, adding that the directors of the accused company have been assuring her of possession of the apartments.
“The project was to be completed within three years from the first payment in the year 2013, however, the respondent have failed to start any construction or development work even after three years from the date of the booking ie 12.4.2013. As per the agreement, the complete possession was to be handed over to the complainant on 12.4.2013. It is stated that complainant has now got to know that the accused did not even have the necessary approval, permissions or sanctions to start the project and it was premeditated conspiracy to collect money from innocent buyers,” the complaint states.
The court presided by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rajesh Malik observed that “If the averments of the complainant are to be believed, it shows that nothing has happened on the said project and alleged persons have no license or sanction for construction or development at the project, for which the complainant paid Rs 53.03 lakh. It is observed here that collection of evidence on the given facts is certainly beyond the control of the complainant. Hence, police investigation is required in the present case to unearth the real facts as to whether the company has taken any steps to handover the possession of the flat to the complainant.”
The developer could not be reached for comment.
Legal experts said that in Haryana, as per terms of license, no builder can pre-launch a project or sell units unless he has received a license. “In this case it seems the developer did not possess a license which is an offence under the Haryana Urban Development Act," said SK Pal, a Supreme Court lawyer. "Also, in this case it seems that the tennis star had lent her name to the project and even agreed to start a tennis academy in her name. That could not be done without her written consent as she has agreed to lend her name which is an expensive proposition, but how far was she involved is a matter of investigation.”
Last year, homebuyers of Amrapali had trolled cricketer MS Dhoni on Twitter for the delays in the completion of the housing project and forced him to quit as the brand ambassador of the Amrapali group.