The Full Bench of the Supreme Court last Friday unanimously agreed that Upjit Singh Sachdeva, an Indian businessman commonly known as Jeety, was innocent of a fraudulent lease agreement allegation.
The court also declared that another Indian businessman, Paul Raspal, general manager of Sethi Brothers Incorporated, was also innocent of a similar allegation.
The claims were brought against the two men by Madam Bindu Fatumata Dukuly, a Liberian woman residing in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Her lawyers were pushing for the court to cancel a 20-year Lease agreement between Madam Dukuly, Raspal and Jeety because of alleged fraud, though she had received US$62,500, as part payment for the first five years.
The property at the center of the dispute is a storied building and a lot situated in Mamba Point in Monrovia.
The Supreme Court’s action came after it upheld a 2013 ruling of a lower court, the Civil Law Court, at the Temple of Justice, which Madam Dukuly’s lawyers rejected and announced an appeal before the Full Bench.
However, after announcing her appeal, Madam Dukuly’s lawyers failed to follow the process, meaning they did not file her appeal bond and a notice of completion of the appeal.
It was based on this failure that the court, in upholding the lower court’s judgment, declared that “Dukuly’s lawyers, having failed to perfect the appeal within 60 days as required by law, and the reason advanced by them for its failure to perfect the appeal not being tenable in law, deprived this court of jurisdiction over the case.”
The Supreme Court declared that “ the motion to dismiss the appeal is hereby granted and Dukuly’s appeal is dismissed.”
They went on to instruct their clerk by saying, “the Clerk of this Court is hereby ordered to send a mandate to the judge presiding in the court below to resume jurisdiction over the case and enforce its judgment costs . . . ruled against Madam Dukuly.”
Cleverly, after noticing that Dukuly’s lawyers did not complete the appeal process within the 60 days as provided under the law, the Indian businessmen’s lawyers then pleaded with the Full Bench to dismiss the matter, which it did.
Before the Supreme Court could come out with their decision, Judge Yussif D. Kaba, who presided over the case at the Civil Law Court, in his judgment said, “Madam Dukuly and all of her witnesses failed to provide evidences to link the defendants, Upjit Singh Sachdeva known as Jeety and Paul Raspal, general manager of Sethi Brothers Incorporated to fraud.”
In that judgment, Judge Kaba further clarified that “during the preparation of the agreement it was established that the parties agreed for him, Raspal, to sub-lease the property at the center of the lawsuit to anyone of his relatives.”
He emphasized that “She, Dukuly did not say [that] Paul should not sub-lease it to Jeety either so, since it was not part of the agreement, in the minds of the court, there is no fraud.”
The case started on September 21, 2012 when Madam Dukuly filed before the Civil Law Court, a petition for “Cancellation of Lease Agreement for Fraud” against the two Indian businessmen Raspal, general manager of Sethi Brothers Incorporated, and Upjit Singh Sachdeve also known as “Jeety.”
In her complaints, Madam Dukuly alleged that in early 2012, she became very ill and needed to undergo a surgical operation abroad and in an attempt to raise funds, decided to lease her property for the first five years out of twenty years to cover travelling, hotel and medical expenses.
After leasing the property, she alleged that she later realized that Raspal had sub-leased it to another Indian businessman, Jeety, to whom she claimed she had refused to lease her property, contending that the Sethi Brothers general manager deceived her.
However, defense lawyers argued that there was no deception or fraud on the implementation of the agreement.
They contended that Madam Dukuly and Raspal agreed for the Sethi Brothers general manager to sub-lease the property to any of his relatives, and this was exactly what he did.
Besides that they argued that Jeety is Raspal’s uncle stressing for the continuation of their agreement since they had paid for five of the twenty years agreed upon.