Saturday, April 20, 2024

Supreme Court appoints former SC judge AM Sapre to assist Unitech board

The Supreme Court has appointed former Supreme Court judge A.M. Sapre to assist the board of Unitech Group in the sale of its assets.

The Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah were of the opinion that an induction of a former judge in this process would not only bring transparency but also protect the interests of homebuyers. The bench perused the third action taken report submitted by Unitech for October 2021.

Additional Solicitor General N. Venkatraman mentioned of the setting up of policy of SOP for sale of land assets. The land assets has been categorized in two types, semi land assets and non-project land assets. The board of directors has issued policy to identify the land parcels. Justice Chandrachud has asked Enforment Directorate (ED) represented by Madhavi Divan and ASG Venkatraman to file status report on both aspects on the next date of hearing.

The ASG urged the Bench to inquire from Enforcement Directorate to file status report as to how much money they have gathered.

Justice Shah asked ASG Venkatraman: “How many buyers are asking for refund and how many of them are asking for possession of flats?”

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Justice Chandrachud: “Most of the buyers must be willing to opt for possession.”
Venkatraman submitted that 90 percent of the buyers are asking for possession.

Justice Chandrachud said: “Ultimately, you have to follow procedure as prescribed in PMLA Act.”

Madhavi Divan, on behalf of ED, submitted: “We have made it clear and in status report as well as in complaint. Thus, we have no objection of sharing it with the accused. Because the same is included in the complaint.”

Justice Shah: “We can direct concerned court to expedite the trial.”

Justice Chandrachud further asked Venkatraman about the procedure of realization of the said amount.

“We cannot prejudge, you have to file application before PMLA Court and hand over the amount back. You have to follow PMLA procedure, we are not apprised of the fact of trial proceedings.”

“There is money siphoned off i.e. Rs 5000 crore to foreign banks. What steps is ED taking to take bring back the money from foreign banks to India?”

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“We can certainly monitor those proceedings (PMLA), because these are homebuyers money, Enforcement Directorate investigation shows that this money is of homebuyers,”

-said Justice Chandrachud.

Divan contended that amounts which are in India have been attached. All kinds of havens have been used in the transactions, she said.

The total amount involved is Rs 760 crore which is in India, 440 properties have been attached in India by ED, said Justice Chandrachud.

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Further he said, “We will not usurp jurisdiction of PMLA Court. We direct PMLA court to conclude the proceedings.”

“Mr Venkatraman – In PMLA, there is only 1 adjudicating authority in India, and the appeal lies to tribunal and that too is not working at present.”

Justice Shah asked ASG Venkatraman: “What steps are you taking regard to restoration of the application?”

Justice Chandrachud observed that some amount from the foreign banks have been utilized to buy two farmhouses in Delhi.
ASG Venkatraman submits that all projects are under closure.

“Prior to coming into effect of NBCC code, you cannot turn back, Noida also wants these areas to get developed. We can impose nominal interest on it. once project starts, revenue will be generated. What harm in it”

-asked Justice Chandrachud.

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Sanjay Chandra, promoter and director of then India’s second largest real estate investment company, was arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police on March 31, 2017 on charges of financial irregularities under Sections 420, 406 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. Chandra was then put in jail for cheating and fraud cases in relation to non-delivery of houses and diversion of money. There are allegations against him that he was wrongly investing one project’s funds in another project.

The ED initiated its money laundering investigation on the basis of various FIRs filed by homebuyers against Unitech Group and its promoters.


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