SC notice to Centre on pleas for investigation in alleged 'franchise racket' cases

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday sought response from the Centre and others on a plea seeking investigation by multiple agencies in a 'franchise racket' in which a number of people were cheated of an estimated Rs 30 crore.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Finance, CBI, Enforcement Directorate and others on the plea.

“Issue notice,” said the bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The petition filed by various individuals have alleged they have been cheated and duped by 'Westland Trade Private Limited' which floated bogus companies such as Hyper Supermarket and Hyper Mart.

The other pleas sought probe against Blue mart, Big mart franchise racket scam cases.

It has sought an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) & SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) or by a Special Investigation Team to investigate various offences including money laundering and black money hoarding by directors & beneficiaries of the company.

The plea, filed through advocates Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay and Ashwani Kumar Dubey, alleged that the company collected franchise fees of Rs 3 lakh and assured certain payout and attracted 500 investors.

However, according to the plea, the company defaulted in the payment during the lockdown and sent an email in May saying it was enforcing Force Majure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract) clause listed in the agreement.

'The injury is large because under a well planned conspiracy, directors, sleeping partners and employees deceived the petitioners by fraudulently and dishonestly inducing them to deliver their hard earned money,' the plea alleged.

A man was arrested in Uttar Pradesh's Noida in August in connection with a 'franchise fraud' in which scores of people have been allegedly duped to the tune of around Rs 30 crore.

According to police, a group of people in the National Capital Region (NCR) had floated a company, 'Hypermart', registered in Sector 63 of Noida, and five-six more such firms to target people with offer of giving them a 'franchise store' of the firm in their city. PTI PKS SJK SA