'Furore over luxe cars not justified'

'Furore over luxe cars not justified'

An MLC and a business tycoon describe what happened after their run-in with transport officials

Farookh’s Ferrari Portofino was stopped by RTO officials on Sunday evening. It is priced at Rs 4.17 crore before taxes. (Right) Yousuff Sharief alias D Babu says he bought his 2007 Rolls Royce from his movie idol Amitabh Bachchan in 2019.

A business tycoon and an MLC from Mangaluru are among those whose luxury cars were stopped by transport officials on Sunday.

B M Farookh, who hails from Mangaluru and represents the JD(S) in the Legislative Council, and Yousuff Sharief alias D Babu, say the furore over their cars is not justified. 

‘I am getting countless calls from friends overseas’

B M Farookh, elected to the Council in 2018, is upset his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the story broke.

“My name has never come up in such a negative way before. My friends from overseas have been calling me and my family is worried,” he told Metrolife

His Ferrari Portofino, priced at Rs 4.17 crore before taxes, was stopped by an inspector at 5 pm on Sunday on Church Street.

“My three daughters were headed for my brother’s house for a function, and one of them was driving it. Even after she produced all the required documents, including the driver’s licence, the inspector made them wait for 45 minutes. He refused to speak to me over the phone and wouldn’t give his number either,” says Farookh.

He wonders why the inspectors asked his daughter to drive the car to UB City, where they had confiscated other cars on grounds of inadequate documentation. He says he has been a car collector for decades and always makes sure documents are in place before he takes his vehicles out.  “The Portofino is the first Ferrari model released in India and I picked it up. It has comprehensive insurance and additional accident cover. When we produced physical documents, the transport official said the details were not reflected on the Vahan portal,” he says. 

When information is not visible on the government’s Vahan site, a provision in the law allows transport officials to verify physical documents, he says. “But this was not told to us. We had to find it out ourselves,” he says.

Farookh, who with his wife declared assets worth Rs 770 crore when he contested elections, has now made arrangements to have the documents uploaded online. “As an MLC, if I am treated in this manner, then imagine the plight of common people,” he says.  

‘I kept the Rolls Royce in Bachchan’s name for the prestige’ 

Yousuff Sharief alias D Babu says he bought his 2007 Rolls Royce from movie icon Amitabh Bachchan in 2019.

Sharief, who nurses political ambitions, is better known as Scrap Babu, Gujri Babu and KGF Babu. He is the eldest of 14 children, and grew up in poverty.

Babu hadn’t changed the ownership of the car because “it is prestigious to have it in Bachchan’s name.” That’s not a good thing for the Mumbai star: he could be liable if his car is involved in an accident.

Babu runs multiple businesses and has declared assets worth Rs 4,000 crore. A big fan of Bachchan, he often goes to the star’s tailor in Mumbai to get his outfits stitched. “I was in my Mumbai office at Nariman Point in 2019 when a broker told me the car was up for sale. I wasted no time in contacting Bachchan’s manager. To be able to own a piece of what he owned was an opportunity of a lifetime,” he recalls.

Babu grew up in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) and worked in the scrap material division of Bharat Gold Mines before he moved to Bengaluru. His father owned a bakery, and when the business went bust, began driving an auto. “Even I drove an auto for a while before I got into the scrap business,” Babu says.

Buying and selling land is now his main business. “I only buy property liquidated by the courts. This is because I can’t read and verify details provided by property owners. When it is a property liquidated by the High Court, all the paperwork is taken care of,” says Babu. The Rolls Royce confiscated by the transport officials had been driven for just 4,000 km before Babu bought it. After it came into his possession in 2019, he says, it has done just 100 km. He admits the insurance on it was overdue, but he had all other documents.

Babu has two wives — Ruksana Taj and Shazia Tarannum — and five children.

Shazia told Metrolife, “My husband is a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan. He sometimes even dresses like him. Buying the car was a stroke of luck and we had guarded it from the public glare. This is a treasured piece and doesn’t compare to anything else we own.”

Officials say…

Transport officials say Farooq’s Ferrari Portofino has been registered in Mumbai, “We have written to the RTO office in Mumbai, seeking a clarification on the authenticity of the documents produced by Farookh. It is compulsory for the RTO office, where the car has been registered, to immediately upload the documents on the Vahan portal. They are at fault for not doing so,” Transport commissioner N Shivakumar tells Metrolife. Are officials aware of this provision that says physical documents are enough even if details are not reflecting on the Vahan site? “There is no such provision on the website,” clarifies Shivakumar.

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