Please Respect Rule Of Law, Vacate & Return Tycoon Sudhir’s Titles-Lands Writes To Defeated DFCU

Please Respect Rule Of Law, Vacate & Return Tycoon Sudhir’s Titles-Lands Writes To Defeated DFCU

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Following a 24th October 2023 High Court ruling that dfcu Bank had illegally transferred to itself 48 properties belonging to Meera Investments, the Commissioner, Lands Registration has cancelled the 48 titles and given dfcu Bank 7 days to return the now “legally inconsequential” duplicates.

Delivering his ruling last month, High Court Judge, Justice Tadeo Asiimwe held that dfcu acted illegally and fraudulently in taking possession of and transferring the leasehold interests, without the prior written consent of the Meera Investments, as the registered proprietor of the Freehold/Mailo titles/interests.

The Judge also ordered dfcu to pay UGX2.4 billion to Meera Investments over and above, including the reparation of all the 48 properties into tenantable position and declared that there were no valid leases in respect of the properties and said that the leases in question which are thus an account of breach and illegality.

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The Judge, therefore, ordered the commissioner of Land registration to immediately cancel 48 leases, lease variations and extensions registered as encumbrances on the mailo and freehold titles belonging to Crane Bank.

Asiimwe also issued a permanent injunction restraining DFCU, its agents and staff from trespassing on the Crane Bank properties.

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“The dfcu Bank was bound to ensure that the covenant is complied with before it could take physical and legal possession thereof. dfcu Bank, aware of the legal requirement opted to depend on assurances by the Receiver (Bank of Uganda) to recover the reversionary interests and sell them. It ought to have been clear to the dfcu Bank that its contractual arrangements with the Receiver purporting to contract the Meera Investments out of its properties were not binding on the Meera Investments as the lessor and could not override the rights of the Meera Investments as a lessor, reserved under the lease covenants and protected under the provisions of the Registration of Titles Act (RTA),” the judge ruled.

However in a response dated 3rd November 2023 dfcu bank acknowledged the ruling and said the ruling  “does not affect the Bank’s day-to-day operations since the branches in question were vacated in 2020.”

”dfcu Bank is also fully indemnified by Bank of Uganda under the P&A agreement,” the bank added thus compelling the Commissioner, Lands Registration to cancel the 48 titles and further tasked dfcu Bank to return the now “legally inconsequential” duplicates in 7 days.

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”You will recall that judgment in the above captioned suit was entered in the favour of the Plaintiff, Meera Investments Limited against DFCU Bank Limited and the Office of the Commissioner Land Registration. Orders were made directing the office to rectify the register in the terms set out in the decree including cancellation of the leasehold certificates of title. A copy of the decree is enclosed for ease of reference. In view of the self-executing nature of the orders of the Court and in order to avert possible contempt proceedings, this office proceeded and implemented the decree of the court to the extent of the orders made for its implementation, by rectifying the register and cancelling the leases as encumbrances on the Mailo and Freehold certificates of title registered in the names of Meera Investments Limited and further by cancelling all the entries on the register and white pages of DFCU Bank Limited as proprietor of the 48 leasehold properties” Reads part of the letter from Commissioner, Lands Registration

”The purpose hereof is therefore to request that, since the leasehold titles have been cancelled thereby rendering the 48 duplicate certificates of title in your possession legally inconsequential, the same should be returned to this office to avoid any possible misuse thereof. Kindly do so within Seven days from the date of receipt of this letter” the letter adds.

Letter From the Commissioner, Lands registration

Background Of the Saga

Meera Investments Limited, a subsidiary of Ruparelia Group, which is owned by Dr Sudhir Ruparelia in 2017 brought a case to the High Court accusing dfcu Bank jointly with Lands Registration Board of for illegal and or fraudulent sale and possession of its 48 leasehold properties across the country. The properties were previously leased by Meera to Crane Bank.

Meera told the Court that by virtue of several lease agreements, lease variation of lease agreements and extensions of leases executed between itself and the former Crane Bank Limited it leased out its 48 properties to Crane Bank Ltd. After the leasing, Crane Bank Limited’s interests were registered as encumbrances on the 48 mailo and freehold titles, and leasehold certificates of title were processed and registered in the names of Crane Bank Limited, as the lessee. It is these properties that constituted the 48 former Crane Bank Limited branches, situated across the country.

However, dfcu Bank denied the claims, saying that it lawfully acquired its interest in the 48 leasehold properties, having purchased the same in 2017 from the Bank of Uganda as a receiver of Crane Bank Limited. This was after Crane Bank Limited was seized and sold off by the Bank of Uganda. Dfcu Bank further told the Court that no consent was required from Meera Investments before the transfer of or taking possession of the suit properties, as the transfer was a statutory transfer under the provisions of the Financial Institutions Act.

Dfcu also denied committing any illegality or fraud in the acquisition of the suit properties.

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