- A company with robust business and on rapid expansion mode could not pay Rs 55 lakh to Anvay Naik!
As Maharashtra government is making all efforts to give late architect Anvay Naik and his family justice, troubles for Smartwork’s Founder Neetish Sarda along with two other accused are far from being over. Smartworks claims to provide configurable and agile workspaces in the finance capital of India and its founder Sharda was named as the Promising Entrepreneur of India by one of the leading publications of India in 2019.
The growth prospect of Smartworks is in jeopardy as Maharashtra’s Home Minister Anil Deshmukh went on record to says that he wanted to give late architect Anvay Naik and his family justice by filing a “strong chargesheet” in the abetment to suicide case that was “wrongly closed by the previous government”. Neetish Sarda and TV anchor Arnab Goswami are two of the three persons named as accused in the case.
Deshmukh said the case was reopened after a court order. “Our investigation into the roles of Goswami and the others is underway. The deceased had left behind a note saying the reason for taking the step was non-payment of Rs 80 lakh by Goswami towards the construction of a studio,” Deshmukh said.
In the abetment of suicide case of Anvay Naik and his mother over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused, Sarda was arrested on November 4. One of the three accused Neetish Sarda is a son of Kolkata’s Jute king Ghanshyam Sarda who owns a Rs 2,500 crore Sarda Industries.
Neetish Sarda had established Smartwork in 2016 and now it has become India’s largest provider of tailor-made, flexible workspace, with a footprint of more than 1.2 million sq. ft. across 15 locations in 9 cities (Delhi NCR, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune). He was also named as the Promising Entrepreneurs of India 2019 by one of the leading publications of India.
Like Anvay Naik’s company designed Arnab’s studio, it also designed Mumbai Branch for Smart works and suicide note alleged that he ( Anvay) never got paid and smart work used this world-class infrastructure to attract more and more customer and investors.
“Though his name appeared on the suicide letter, not much has come out of his role in the suicide. The total amount to be paid by the three accused was Rs 5.4 crore. Out of the total amount due, Sarda had to pay Rs 55 lakh to Naik,” said a close associate of Sarda who requested anonymity.
Anvay Naik and his mother committed suicide in 2018 after which Naik’s widow – Akshata Naik — filed the complaint. Akshata and her daughter Adnya Naik alleged that they were under tremendous pressure to withdraw the complaint and were also threatened with dire consequences.
The role of Sarda has not come out in all this. Neetish Sarda’s company – Smartworks has reportedly raised $25 million from Singapore-based Keppel Land in November 2019, and Sarda in many interviews has claimed that post-COVID his company will go all out for expansion and acceleration. Last month it was reported that Smartworks leased more than 2 lakh sq ft, which rules out any sort of cash crunch in the company. Then, why the man who was planning to expand his business at a volcanic pace could not pay Rs 55 lakh to Naik? His friends and supporters were heard whispering that Neetish Sarda is a victim of circumstances, but he is a victim of circumstances he created.
Meanwhile, Smartworks is in trouble as the promoter would face the charges and defend himself in the Court. Ambitious expansion and growth plans for the company would require a direction and vision from its promoter who is not going through legal processes but also facing not-so-sympathetic sentiments of the people.