The Supreme Court of India today asked the troubled real estate company Unitech Limited to furnish the details of unencumbered assets for auction purposes later to raise money to refund home-buyers.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh on JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Company, which had taken over some loans advanced by HDFC Bank to Unitech Limited.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that the asset reconstruction company had given the impression that it would pay the money for a refund to home buyers and now the entire proceeding had been diverted.
“We treat it as an unnecessary diversion from the main case,” the bench said while imposing the cost.
The bench asked the real estate company to file the details of its unencumbered assets and made it clear that they would be auctioned to settle the deals of hassled home buyers.
The details of assets have to be filed within 15 days from today.
The firm had on March 5 told the apex court that Mumbai-based firm J M Financial Ltd was interested in financing their under-construction projects.
The apex court had on October 30 last year said that Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, currently in jail, would be granted bail only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December-end.
The top court had earlier directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers so that he could arrange money to refund the home-buyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.
Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home-buyers of Unitech projects’ — ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ — situated in Gurugram.
The Supreme Court today rejected the interim bail plea of Sanjay Chandra, the managing director of real estate developer Unitech, saying that “the tears of 16,300 home buyers is important than freedom of the builder”. The top court also warned Mr. Chandra that it will appoint court receiver and auction projects if buyers don’t get flats or refund.
Mr. Chandra’s lawyer pleaded with the court to allow him to work in his office and he is the only builder in jail whereas other builders are roaming free. Rejecting the bail plea, the court said: “When home buyers get their money or flats you (Sanjay Chandra) can be a free bird.”
“Bail jurisprudence can’t be applied in this case because there are 16,300 people waiting for their flats or their money,” the court said.
Mr. Chandra and his brother Ajay were arrested in April this year after flat buyers who did not get their flats as promised filed complaints of cheating against them. The Chandra brothers had moved the top court against the 11 August order of the Delhi High Court refusing to grant interim bail to them.
In an earlier hearing last month, Sanjay Chandra, who had sought an interim bail for three months, had assured the Supreme Court that he would sell his house to settle the dues of the flat buyers seeking a refund of their money. ” If I am left in judicial custody, the entire company will collapse. I need to be out of the jail to arrange for the money, which I will do by selling my assets,” Mr. Chandra said. “If I fail to meet the demands, punish me. But give me three months to complete the demand,” Mr. Chandra told the bench.
Today also Mr. Chandra pleaded the Supreme Court to allow him to be out of jail for six months so that he can work in his office and arrange the money.
The Supreme Court was today informed by amicus curiae (court’s advisor) Pawan Agarwal that out of 74 projects by Unitech, 13 were completed and 61 projects pending. He also told the court that 16,300 flat buyers are waiting for flats and the amount involved is Rs. 7,860 crore. The Supreme Court said that Unitech flat buyers who want flats or refund of their money can log into http://www.amicusunitech.in and exercise their option. The website will be operational from tomorrow.