The Supreme Court, on March 12, 2018, asked embattled real estate company Unitech Limited and its jailed managing director (MD) Sanjay Chandra, to give a list of its unencumbered properties in India and abroad and made clear that they would be auctioned to clear dues of home buyers. A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra also imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakhs on JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (JMFARCL), which had taken over some loans advanced by HDFC Bank to Unitech Limited. The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the asset reconstruction company and Unitech Limited had given the impression that it (the asset reconstruction firm) would pay the money for refund to home buyers and now, the entire proceeding have been diverted.
“We treat it as an unnecessary diversion form the main case,” the bench said while imposing the cost. “Actual home buyers are here and they have been cheated,” the bench said, adding “We will direct auctioning of all unencumbered properties of the company (Unitech), to realise the dues of the home buyers. The competent authority of Unitech Limited shall file an affidavit, mentioning the details of its properties and its subsidiaries, situated in India as well as outside, which are free from encumbrances. If the affidavit is not true, proceedings shall be initiated under Section 340 (perjury) of the CrPC,” the bench said.
When senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the firm’s MD, said that he was in jail, the court said, ‘you pay the money and get the bail’. The lawyer has sought time for filing the complete details of unencumbered assets of the firms, saying the chartered accountants are working. The bench granted the real estate firm and its incarcerated MD time till March 26, 2018, to give the list of its unencumbered properties in India and abroad.
After the top court imposed the cost on JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (JMFARCL), a fervent plea was raised on its behalf, for waiving of the fine saying that it was going to help the real estate firm in completing projects and deliver possessions of flats to the home buyers. The court remained unimpressed. The firm had, on March 5, 2018, told the apex court that Mumbai-based firm JMFARCL was interested in financing their under-construction projects.
The apex court had, on October 30, 2017, said that Unitech Limited’s 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, 2017, had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home buyers of Unitech’s projects – ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ – situated in Gurugram.