A Supreme Court bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, on February 20, 2018, directed real estate firm Supertech Ltd to deposit Rs 10 crores more with its registry, to pay interest to the home buyers who have opted out of its Emerald Towers project that has two 40-storey residential buildings in Noida area of Uttar Pradesh. The bench also took note of the plea of the real estate company that its appeal against the High Court order be heard, in order to put to rest the entire dispute as to whether the towers were legal or should be razed.
The apex court took note of the report of advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting it as an amicus curiae that there was a list of 164 home buyers. Some home buyers have got refund of their principal amount from the apex court registry, Agrawal said, adding that some others have got refund of the principal amount ‘minus the return on investment (ROI) from the registry’. The third category of home buyers have got refund of their principal amount from Supertech itself, he said, adding that the last category belonged to those who have not opted out and their EMIs are being paid by the real estate firm.
“As the principal amount has been paid to the home buyers who fall in the categories (i), (ii) and (iii), some interest deserves to be paid. We may state here that the high court has directed refund with 14 per cent per annum compounded interest, up to April 11, 2014. As per our earlier order, the said aspect needs to be debated. As an interim arrangement, it is directed that the petitioner-developer shall deposit a further sum of Rs 10 crores before the registry of this court. The amicus curiae shall compute the amount at the rate of 12 per cent per annum simple interest, till the date of refund,” the court said.
The court asked its registry to take assistance of the amicus curiae in disbursal of interest to the home buyers on a ‘pro-rata’ basis. It also asked the real estate company to keep paying the EMIs, on behalf of those home buyers who have not opted out of its housing projects in question. “Having appreciated the controversy, we direct that the petitioner, Supertech Ltd, shall pay the EMI, so that the home buyers do not get any kind of notice from bank(s),” it said.
The court also said the home buyers, who are taking the benefit of refund with interest, ‘shall return the title deeds and documents to the petitioner developer, including the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the bank, if any’, in the presence of the amicus curiae. “The registry shall refund the amount, as directed, after the amicus curiae gives a certificate that the documents have already been returned to the petitioner developer,” it said and fixed the case for hearing on April 16, 2018.
The court, in August 2017, had asked Supertech to deposit Rs 10 crores, for refunding principal money to the investors who wanted to opt out of its Emerald Towers project. The apex court had said that first, the principal amount would be given to the investors and then, the issue of interest and compensation component would be decided.
It had also said that if the two 40-storey residential buildings in Noida were constructed without proper sanction, these would be demolished. The bench is hearing pleas against the Allahabad High Court’s April 11, 2014 verdict, ordering demolition of the two 40-storey residential twin towers – Apex and Ceyane – in Noida and directing Supertech to refund money to home buyers with 14 per cent interest in three months. The towers have 857 apartments, of which about 600 flats have already been sold. The apex court had on February 16, 2015, directed Supertech to refund money to flat owners, saying, ‘Developers can’t take investors for a ride’.