Slapping a penalty on Unitech Resorts for delaying handing over of flats, the Supreme Court on February 20, 2017, directed it to deposit 14% interest on Rs 16.55 crores, invested by 39 home buyers with it. The 39 home buyers, who moved the court, had booked flats in Unitech’s Vista housing project in Gurugram. They had sought a refund of their principal amount, totaling Rs 16.55 crores with interest, after the developer, which had promised to give the possession by 2012, delayed it.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said the interest will be calculated by the developer, from January 1, 2010 and asked the real estate major to deposit the amount with the apex court registry within eight weeks. The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagoudar, directed the registry to disburse 90% of this amount to home buyers on a pro-rata basis, as was done while giving the refund of the principal amount. While asking the developer to quantify the interest to be paid to each of the 39 home buyers, the bench said the issue of compensation will be deliberated at the next hearing.
During the hearing, senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Unitech Resorts Pvt Ltd, said the company had deposited Rs 17 crores as directed by the apex court, which was refunded to them by the apex court registry. He said that giving back the principal amount, was equal to giving possession of the flats. However, there was a market slowdown. The bench, however, said it would deliberate on the issue of compensation and interest on the next date of hearing and listed the matter for final hearing on April 3, 2017.
On January 12, the apex court had directed that Rs 2 crores deposited by Unitech with its registry as principal amount, be distributed among 39 home buyers. The apex court had on August 17, 2016, directed the embattled real estate firm to deposit Rs 15 crores principal amount by September-end to pay back investors and home buyers who were not given possession of the flats on time.
The investors had told the court that they had paid money to the firm on time and the company was scheduled to hand over possession of the flats in 2012 but had not till date. Over two dozen home buyers of Unitech’s housing projects in Noida and Gurugram had approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), after the builder failed to give them possession of the flats as the per schedule. The consumer forum had asked Unitech to refund the money to the home buyers with interest.
The apex court in another matter, had earlier asked the company to deposit an interim penalty of Rs 5 crores with the court registry, after the firm challenged the order of the consumer forum asking it to pay Rs 5 crores penalty to three buyers of its Burgundy project. The court had said that the deposited penalty will be awarded to the buyers or returned to Unitech, depending on the outcome of the case.