The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kapil falls from the skies

New Delhi, April 29: Fishing for trouble is what officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ended up doing this morning when they sealed the swank property that houses Kapil Dev's wife Romi's wedding-organiser business.

Delhi High Court had yesterday ordered the four-storey building in residential Greater Kailash I to be sealed because it was being used for commercial operations without an occupancy certificate.

But it was not the Devs, the celebrity owners of the rear portion of the red brick building that also houses other showrooms, who were the source of trouble.

Kapil looked a fish out of water. 'We only got to hear through the media about this. We don't even know why it is being sealed,' he pleaded as corporation officials and policemen swarmed around. He did not even have a copy of the order, he said.

'I don't know whether an occupancy certificate is required or not. I just bought it. I have done nothing illegal,' Kapil said. 'If it is illegal, they should tell me, I won't live here. I don't want to do anything wrong.' The former captain claimed he was 'totally unaware of the legal nitty gritty'.

The court had issued the order taking into account a corporation engineer's affidavit. In December, the court had directed that without the occupancy certificate no commercial activity should be started.

Kapil claimed his wife's boutique was a 'hobby' and a not commercial venture. This N That is a joint venture of Romi and her cousin Meera Bhatia. From a gifts outlet, it has grown into a business that organises big weddings and earns annual revenues between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1 crore.

He said they had bought the place six months ago and were using it as an office-cum-residence. Kapil, who has a bungalow in upscale Sundernagar, allowed reporters into the first-floor residence. Romi's boutique is on the floor above.

But it was in the showroom opposite This N That ' on the front side of the building ' that the source of the trouble lay. A sunken aquarium with a fibreglass top on the floor of the electrical goods shop was home to 50 goldfish.

If the property was sealed, the fish would die. The corporation officials had brought along policemen to overcome any resistance, but had not thought of fishing nets. So they rolled up their trousers, went down on all fours and removed the fibreglass top, planning to use their hands instead. The fish clearly had other plans.

'We have been waiting since morning for them to catch the fish,' said sub-inspector Dilip Singh. 'But when they try to catch them, they swim to the other side.'

Finally, they gave up. The showroom was emptied and sealed, leaving the fish still swimming inside. Shop manager Aman said: 'We have asked the police to wait. We have asked for a person to come and take the fish out' But they are insisting on closing it down.'

The police had had enough. 'You can get a stay from the court and remove the fish later or call Maneka Gandhi,' sub-inspector Singh said, walking away from the fishy business.

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