The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant interim bail to real estate firm Unitech managing directors Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra in an alleged forgery case filed by home buyers of its Gurugram-based Anthea Floors Wildflower Country project. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the bail applications will be considered only after the data of home buyers seeking refund or possession of flats is collated.
“You have created a situation for yourself,” the CJI observed when the Chandras’ counsel Abhimanyu Bhandari asked for an “opportunity to save home buyers”. “You have to furnish every detail about all the projects to the amicus who shall collate the data about the home buyers seeking refund, flats or plots, so that we have a complete clear picture,” the bench told the counsel.
The apex court also asked advocate Pawan Shree Agrawal, amicus curiae, to collect the details. The judges also permitted home buyers to submit data on a designated portal.
The amicus told the court that he has so far come to know about 55 projects of the company and in nine projects, an estimated Rs 1,800 crore has been paid by about 4,000 home buyers to Unitech. “We are currently looking at 17,000 flat buyers in 74 projects of the company. We need time to collate the data and give the complete picture to the court,” he argued. He added that the portal will be ready by September 21, the date of the next hearing.
“Once the portal starts working, buyers will get a 15-days window to punch in and upload all the details,” he said.
Agrawal said he was able to collate data “partially” for just two projects — Anthea Floor Wildflower Country and Vistas. Buyers in the Anthea project (which has not yet started construction) have paid Rs 188 crore to the developer and have demanded 100% refund while most buyers of Vistas have demanded possession of flats, he said. “Projects where construction is at advance stages, buyers are not going for refunds,” he added.
There are around 74 projects of Unitech across the country, accounting for more than 15,000 home buyers who are facing delays at present. Of these, 41 projects are located in the National Capital Region.
Five buyers of Unitech’s Anthea Floors Wildflower Country project including Delhi residents led by Arjun Bedi and others had filed a complaint for registration of FIR against the company in 2015.
Later, 90 more complaints were received against the firm for the same project which were clubbed with the FIR. The buyers had alleged that Unitech did not return the money to them when they sought refund of their amount for delay in handing over the possession of their flats in the company’s housing project in Gurugram. They had also accused the builder of duping several people.
Almost after two years, the economic offences wing of the Delhi Police had arrested both the real estate investment company’s managing directors for failing to complete the housing project on time in Gurugram’s Sector 70. The police had also restrained them from getting bail in the matter, according to the petition. They were booked under sections 406, 409 (breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 120 (b) (concealing criminal offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
Despite the police in its status report stating that the matter was of a civil nature, the trial court had directed police to register an FIR against the company in compliance of its July 27, 2015, report.
The accused were granted bail for three months on April 10 so as to enable them to meet home buyers and settle the disputes by either providing them alternative properties or refund the money by way of a repayment plan. However, it was cancelled recently and they were sent to judicial custody.