The bail plea of the three cofounders of Bengaluru-based coliving startup Homigo — Nikunj Bhatija, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma filed last week at the Bengaluru session court — has been rejected.
While the founders are still absconding, advocate Ashok D P had filed a bail plea on behalf of the accused at Bengaluru Sessions Court on March 19.
The Homigo founders are accused of running away with about INR 20 Cr, worth funds from the deposits and rents paid by tenants residing in its more than 100 leased properties across Bengaluru.
“We came to know about the filing and dismissal of their (Homigo founders) bail plea recently. We have got some clues and are working on them,” a senior official from the police investigation team working on the Homigo case told Inc42.
After a backlash from tenants and building owners, First Investigation Reports (FIRs) were filed at multiple police stations in Bengaluru including — HSR, Bellandur, Mico Layout and Jeevan Bhima Naga Police stations.
On 26th March, the Additional City and Sessions Judge rejected the bail plea of the founders.
On March 23, another bail application was filed by Chaitanya V Cotha, an investor and director at Homigo. His final hearing is set on March 29, 2019.
According to the court order accessed by Inc42, accused former employees Prateek Ramesh Kumar and Adeep Panicker Pais have also filed a petition on March 13, 2019 and were granted bail on March 21. The court however set the following conditions on their bail:
- The petitioners shall appear before the court regularly and they shall also appear before IO (Investigation Officer) whenever he is called by the IO for the purpose of investigation.
- The petitioner shall not tamper with the evidence and shall not threaten, induce allure the prosecution witnesses in whatsoever manner.
The accused were also asked to deposit a personal bond of INR 1 Lakh each.
The case will now get transferred to the Central Crime Branch (CCB) in the next few days, a police officer working on the case said.
Homigo Fiasco: The Case So Far
On March 6, Homigo employees reported that a mob of around 50 people comprising owners and tenants from the Homigo properties gathered at the company’s headquarters in Bengaluru. Due to this, the company’s senior officials decided to shutdown the office premises.
Interactions with the Homigo employees revealed that the founders have also swindled money from its employees. Apart from INR 12 Lakhs in unpaid salaries approximately, employees had also personally invested in the company at the behest of the founders last year. According to one of its employees, he along with another employee had personally put in INR 11.5 lakhs in the company.
Founded in 2015, Homigo was an online platform to rent designed and furnished places with an inventory of more than 2,000 beds. The company was said to be in talks to raise around INR 14 Cr – INR 28 Cr ($2 Mn – $4 Mn) by March 9-10. Also, there were acquisition talks with Bengaluru-based online home rental marketplace Nestaway. However, both of the deals did not materialise and Nestaway has issued a notice to Homigo users that it is not in possession of their deposits.
[Additional reporting by Suprita Anupam]
Update 1: April 4, 2019: The story earlier mentioned former employees Prateek Ramesh Kumar and Adeep Panicker Pais as board members, which was incorrect. The story has now been rectified.