The Supreme Court today directed a company, which is negotiating with embattled realtor Unitech Ltd to purchase land in Chennai valued at around Rs 400 crore, to deposit Rs 90 crore by March 31 in the apex court registry. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar asked Omshakthy Agencies (Madras) Pvt Ltd to deposit the amount after Unitech informed the court that there was an agreement for sale of pieces of land between the two firms. However, the apex court did not comment on the fervent request of Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, who is currently in jail, to grant him custody parole for 10-15 days to enable him negotiate with interested buyers and arrange money for refunding the homebuyers and complete the ongoing housing projects.
A senior official of Omshakthy Agencies (Madras) Pvt Ltd appeared before the court as per its January 29 direction when the bench initially asked him to deposit Rs 150 crore by March 31. However, the counsel representing the official told the bench that as per the agreement of sale with Unitech, the entire amount of Rs 400 crore was to be paid by June 2019 and by March 31 this year, the company has to pay Rs 90 crore. “Let him (official of the company) deposit Rs 90 crore on or before March 31, 2018,” the bench then said.
Advocate Pawanshree Agrawal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, referred to an application filed by some investors saying that Unitech could sell three of its housing projects and get money to pay Rs 2,000 crore to the Noida Authority and over Rs 200 crore to the LIC. The company would then have a tranche of Rs 1,000 crore with it. Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Chandra, said he would file a response to the suggestion given in the application. He also repeatedly requested the bench to grant custody parole to Chandra. “I (Chandra) am in jail for seven months. There is an onerous task on me. I (Chandra) am trying my best,” Kumar said, adding, “The Supreme Court has asked me to give Rs 750 crore for bail. I want to come out (of jail). Give me custody parole. Every buyer does not want to come to jail to meet me”.
When the amicus said that Unitech’s Chairman Ramesh Chandra was there to look after these things, Kumar said, “the amicus should be neutral. He should not be speaking for the homebuyers only. This is not fair to me.” Kumar also said that construction of six housing projects of Unitech was going on and in December last year, they have completed 600 flats. After the counsel said he would respond to the suggestions given by the amicus, the bench posted the matter for hearing on March 5.
During the hearing, the amicus also told the bench that the homebuyers, who want possession of flats, should remove their names from the list of investors who want refund of their money from Unitech. Unitech had earlier told the apex court that they were negotiating with Omshakthy Agencies (Madras) Pvt Ltd to sell two portions of it land in Chennai for around Rs 170 crore and Rs 229.45 crore respectively. The court had directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers so he could arrange money for refunding the homebuyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.
It had last year 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 last year said the jailed businessman will be granted bail only after the real estate group deposits money with its registry by December end. Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home buyers of Unitech projects — ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ — in Gurgaon.