Mumbai: Raigad Police have challenged the account that Mumbai-based interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother both committed suicide, saying in their charge sheet that he killed the latter before ending his own life.
Police filed a 1,914-page charge sheet in the case at an Alibaug court Friday. According to the charge sheet, which has been accessed by ThePrint, Naik had also “signalled” to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and two others accused of abetting his suicide that he intended to kill himself but was not taken seriously.
Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, and his mother Kumud Naik, who served as director in the firm, were found dead at their Alibaug bungalow in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on 5 May 2018. A one-page suicide note that police found at the spot said “we (Naik and his mother) are committing suicide”, and named Goswami, Niteish Sarda of Smartworks and Firoz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia for allegedly failing to pay dues of Rs 83 lakh, Rs 55 lakh and Rs 4 crore, respectively, to Concorde Designs Private Limited.
The Raigad Police had closed the case last year after filing ‘A Summary Report’, which is done when allegations in a complaint are found to be true, but there’s no evidence to prosecute. However, the case was reopened in October this year, with police claiming fresh evidence had come to light. Police also said the complainant, Naik’s wife Akshata, was not given a chance to have her say before the case was closed. On 4 November, police arrested Goswami, Sarda and Shaikh. They were released on bail just over a week later.
The chargesheet says police recorded statements of 65 witnesses during their investigation and found evidence that the accused were “directly and indirectly involved in the suicide of Anvay Madhukar Naik”.
However, they have dropped Section 34 of the IPC that was invoked in the FIR. Under this section, the trio was accused of working together to drive Naik to suicide.
“All three accused were in the same position. They were aware of his financial situation. All three of them did not pay up, despite knowing,” special public prosecutor Pradip Gharat told ThePrint. “And Anvay Naik had informed all three of his intention to commit suicide. So, while Section 34 does not apply, Section 109 has been added to the chargesheet.” Section 109 deals with punishment for abetment to an offence.
‘More work for lower cost, one-sided debit note’
According to the charge sheet, many witnesses told police that Naik had completed the work orders of the three accused, and also delivered on certain additional work that was added at the eleventh hour.
The accused had individually engaged Naik’s company for interior designing, civil work, electrical work, plumbing, engineering consultancy and so on.
“Although, as per law, the bill of quantities should have been amended with the additional work, the accused kept the same bill of quantities and got more work done at a lower price from the deceased,” the charge sheet says.
It adds that Naik purchased a lot of raw material from vendors for the work orders of the three accused, and was unable to pay them when the accused defaulted on their payment.
“Accused 1 and 3 (Goswami and Sarda) raised a one-sided debit note with the intention of not paying the deceased the sum due to him. Neither did they take any signature of the deceased on the debit note, nor did they get his approval or even made attempts to get it,” the chargesheet says, adding that accused number 2, Shaikh, too kept Naik’s dues pending.
An investigation by ThePrint had found last week that Naik and Concorde Designs were battling financial distress for several years before the contracts with Goswami, Sarda or Shaikh.
‘Naik was under immense mental stress’
Vendors from whom Naik purchased raw material started following up with him for payment, and he was, in turn, constantly following up with the accused for his payment through personal meetings, telephonic conversations and emails, the charge sheet states.
The Raigad Police have said Naik was under “immense mental stress” over not being able to pay back his vendors.
“Although the deceased consistently informed the accused about this and, in the end, signalled to them about his intention to commit suicide, the accused said ‘do what you want’ and did not pay his dues compelling him to commit suicide,” the charge sheet says.
‘Anvay Naik strangulated mother before killing self’
Since Kumud was also a director at Concorde, Naik was afraid she would have to bear the brunt of the firm’s financial woes and deal with vendors after his death, the charge sheet states, noting this as the reason he allegedly killed her.
Naik first strangulated his mother to death at his farmhouse in the Kavir village of Alibaug taluka and then wrote a note blaming Goswami, Sarda and Shaikh for his and his mother’s deaths, the Raigad Police have said in the charge sheet.
Following this, Naik hung himself from the ceiling of his house, the charge sheet adds.