Deposit money to show bonafide: SC to firm interested in buying Unitech’s Chennai land
Embattled real estate firm, Unitech Ltd, on January 29, 2018, told a Supreme Court bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra that it was negotiating with a company, to sell two portions of it lands in Chennai for around Rs 170 crores and Rs 229.45 crores, respectively. The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, directed the top court registry to issue notice to the company, which is negotiating with Unitech in acquiring the land, asking its competent authority to appear before it on February 16, 2018.
“If the company is desirous of purchasing the property at the value indicated (by Unitech), it can bring a draft of the said amount in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court, so that further directions can be issued,” it said.
The apex court did not comment on the request of Unitech Ltd managing director Sanjay Chandra, to grant him custody parole for eight weeks, to enable him to arrange money to refund home buyers and complete the ongoing housing projects. The apex court said that Unitech Ltd’s home buyers, who are interested in taking possession of their flats as per its present status, could intimate advocate Pawan Shree Aggarwal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the company, told the bench that the court had directed Chandra to deposit Rs 750 crores with it, to safeguard the interests of home buyers and the best effort was being made for it. He also referred to the dues which the Telangana government allegedly owed to Unitech, for the payment made by the firm in 2007. “I (Unitech) have to recover money. These are amounts which I cannot recover because I am in jail. The court may consider granting custody parole for eight weeks,” he said.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Chandra, told the bench that the Chennai land deal would be worth Rs 400 crore but the problem was that ‘buyers do not want to come to jail to meet me’. The bench then asked whether there was any document, to show that the land deal was under negotiation. When Kumar said that there was a sale deed, the bench asked him to give the details and address of the company, which was negotiating with Unitech for the land.
At the fag end of hearing, the company told the bench that despite the apex court’s order, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had passed orders against Unitech. The bench said that it would deal with it separately.
The court had earlier directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers, so that he could arrange money for refunding the home buyers, as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects. It had, in 2017, directed the Tihar Jail authorities to grant adequate meeting time to Chandra, for allowing him to strike deals with prospective buyers.
The top court had on October 30, 2017, said that the jailed businessman will be granted bail only after the real estate group deposits money with its registry by December 2017. Chandra was 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’ – in Gurugram.