Coming down heavily on Jaiprakash Associates (JAL) for failing to deposit Rs 2,000 crore to cover part of its subsidiary Jaypee Infratech’s liability towards 32,000 homebuyers, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the directors of the real restate firm to be personally present before it and disclose their personal assets on November 22. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also appointed advocate Pawanshree Agarwal as amicus curiae and asked him to create a portal for buyers to register and file their grievances and claims. Meanwhile, the committee of creditors met here on Friday to discuss the expressions of interest from the prospective bidders for taking over Jaypee Infratech’s incomplete projects. The designated insolvency resolution professional had invited companies, investment firms and fund houses with a net worth of over Rs 1,000 crore to complete the delayed projects, including Noida’s Wish Town, by infusing Rs 2,000 crore.
Steel, energy and cement conglomerate JSW Group, metals and commodities giant Vedanta, the Mumbai-based Lodha Group and Deutsche Bank are among the 18 companies that have shown interest in buying Jaypee Infratech. Earlier on November 6, the apex court had rejected JAL’s offer to deposit Rs 400 crore and had asked the firm to deposit a “substantial amount such as Rs 1,000 crore” by November 13 to show its bona fides. JAL, the parent company of Jaypee Infratech, is seeking to deposit the money in parts towards the Rs 2,000 crore that the apex court had directed it to pay initially by October 27 and then was later extended to November 5.
Monday’s direction came after JAL counsel Anupam Lal Das told the court that the company doesn’t have sufficient funds to deposit Rs 2,000 crore. Jaypee Infratech was among the 12 companies against which the Reserve Bank of India had asked banks to file insolvency petitions in June. Das argued that JAL has Rs 593 crore lying in an escrow account with the ICICI Bank and has a cheque for another Rs 100 crore ready, thus a total Rs 700 crore can be deposited with the Supreme Court’s registry SC by Tuesday but for this it needed a direction to the bank to release the money. Das further said that “JAL is under debt restructuring and whatever assets it is selling the sale amount goes into the escrow account… We are seeking a direction to the bank to release my money.”
However, ICICI Bank’s senior counsel Shyam Divan opposed any release of money, saying it involves “complex escrow arrangement”. Senior counsel Abhishekh Singhvi, appearing for IDBI Bank, argued that JAL has missed the fourth deadline to deposit Rs 2,000 crore towards refunding homebuyers and no further extension of time should be given to it. Senior counsel Ajit Sinha and counsel Ashwarya Sinha told the bench that this was another delaying tactic adopted by the company. The counsel said that a contempt petition has been filed against the three directors of the Jaypee Group — Manoj Gaur, Sunny Gaur and Pankaj Gaur for failing to comply with the orders of the SC.
On October 25, the Supreme Court had rejecting JAL’s proposal to hive off its multi-crore Yamuna Expressway toll asset rights to generate Rs 2,000 crore. It had on September 11 asked JAL to deposit Rs 2,000 crore with its registry by October 27 to protect the interests of flat buyers. It had also asked the group to take approval of the IRP appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) before selling any property and restrained the directors and managing directors of Jaypee Infratech and JAL from travelling abroad without prior permission of the court. The SC had also restored the insolvency resolution proceedings against Jaypee Infratech and directed the IRP to take over the “records and management” of the company and submit within 45 days an interim resolution which should safeguard interests of “low- and middle-income homebuyers” who have invested in the real estate major’s 27 housing projects in the national capital region.