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Taj Mall owner loses bid to halt fraud charges on title deeds

Taj Mall owner Rameshchandra Govind Gorasia has lost his bid to quash a criminal case against him regarding how he acquired title deeds to the land on which his shopping complex is built.

High Court judge George Odunga on Tuesday ruled that Mr Gorasia’s argument that he was an innocent purchaser of the land on which Taj Mall stands should be presented before the chief magistrate as his defence in the case.

Mr Justice Odunga argued that a defence to a criminal case is not grounds to apply for quashing of one’s trial before the Chief Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Gorasia in his application before the Judicial Review Court held that the Land Fraud Investigations Unit (LFIU) should have investigated how two title deeds were issued in respect of the same land.

TITLES VALID

The Taj Mall owner also claimed that the unit had not done any tests to prove which of the titles is valid.

“In my view the applicant’s case seems to be what cons titutes his defence to the criminal charges and the mere fact that a person believes he has a good defence to the criminal case is not a ground for commencing judicial review proceedings.

“In the premises based on the material placed before me, I am unable to find that the applicant has established a prima facie case,” Mr Justice Odunga ruled.

Mr Gorasia has accused Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko of colluding with the LFIU to throw him under the bus, and wanted the court to intervene by dismissing the criminal case before the Nairobi Chief Magistrate’s Court.

“The said property is owned by virtue of a grant issued by the commissioner of lands on April 9, 1996. Unknown to Taj Mall, a company known as Siesta Investments had fraudulently procured a title to the same parcel of land.

FORENSIC ANALYSIS

“At no single time or occasion has the LFIU attempted to investigate the officials at the land office. The LFIU has not bothered to take any title documents for forensic analysis,” Mr Gorasia argued.

Mr Justice Odunga questioned why Mr Gorasia did not attach the charge sheet that is before the Chief Magistrate’s Court which would have been the most crucial piece of evidence in the suit.

Mr Gorasia has been charged with forgery, as the LFIU insists that the Taj Mall owner fraudulently obtained the title deed to his land.

The National Land Commission and the Kenya National Highways Authority last year threatened to demolish Taj Mall down to make way for the Eastern Bypass.