The Supreme Court on Thursday identified 16 properties of the Amrapali Group for auctioning, preferably by the NBCC, to give the PSU an initial corpus to start work on the stalled projects. It also ordered a forensic audit of the firm and its promoters to gauge the extent of financial wrongdoings. NBCC offered to the court that it can start construction on the 15 stalled projects with a capital of Rs 1,000 crore and the remaining amount of Rs 7,500 crore could be given in quarterly installments of Rs 250 crore.
The top court also brought CMD of Amrapali Group Anil Sharma under its scanner for declaring his assets worth Rs 67 crore as against Rs 847 crore declared in his election affidavit filed during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when he had unsuccessfully contested as a JD(U) candidate from Bihar’s Jehanabad constituency.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit said the records regarding how Sharma’s assets, which were worth Rs 847 crore, have now come to be worth only Rs 67 crore in a span of just four years, have not been placed before it so far. It sought an affidavit on the list of properties of Sharma and other directors, including their family members, within four days and posted the matter for further hearing on September 12.
The bench directed that forensic audit of 46 group companies of Amrapali and its directors and promoters and their spouses and children will be done in two months. “In the circumstances, we direct forensic audit of 46 companies of Amrapali Group including Jotindra Steel and Tubes Ltd. Let the forensic audit of assets of all directors including movable and immovable, their family members and related companies. Let the forensic audit be completed within two months and reports be submitted in the court,” the bench said.
The apex court, however, said it would later decide which agency will do the forensic audit, but would look at the extent of properties held by directors, diversion of funds, if any, statement of accounts of companies and their family members. The 16 properties to be sold by auction are Amrapali Homes at Vrindavan, Amrapali Homes Projects Pvt Ltd at Indore, Amrapali Homes Project Pvt Ltd and Bhubaneshwar, Sangam Colonizer, Jaipur, Hi-tech City, Jaipur, Ultra Home Construction Pvt Ltd at Sikkim, Udaipur, Raipur and New Raipur.
Other projects to be sold by auction include unlaunched part of Amrapali Leisure Valley and Amrapali Leisure Valley Commercial in Greater Noida, unlaunched part of Amrapali Centurial Park Pvt Ltd and Amrapali Centurian Park Commercial. The bench said the auction should preferably be done by National Buildings Construction Corporation India Ltd (NBCC) as it was a trusted name and the homebuyers have faith in it.
“NBCC was chosen over others as it will repose faith in home buyers. Being a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), let it not take the projects for profit motive. Over 42,000 flat buyers will be thankful to NBCC,” the bench said. The top court also asked the Noida, Greater Noida and other concerned authorities to file their reports regarding the available space in the 16 unencumbered properties.
At the outset, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for NBCC, said the corporation was keen to help the home buyers but the real concern was money. She suggested quarterly installments of Rs 250 crore and a one-time amount of Rs 1,000 crore was required to start the construction of the pending Amrapali projects. When advocate Gaurav Bhatia, appearing for Amrapali, said the group was proposing an alternate plan to raise money, the bench said, “Everybody has burnt their fingers. No one reposes any faith in you (Amrapali). Unless you put money to start the pending projects, their will be no second thought”.
The court also grilled group CMD Anil Sharma, who was present in the court, and asked him how his assets came down from Rs 847 crore to just 67 crore in just four years. Sharma said that out of Rs 847 crore, he had Rs 700 crore equity in the group companies.
The bench then asked from where he got the money to purchase equity worth Rs 700 crore and remarked that “it is not your personal money” which you showed in election affidavit.
“You can get Rs 700 crore equity in group companies only if someone has given you freebies or shall we take it that you bought Rs 700 crore equity by just paying Rs 7000. This is totally wrong under companies Act. You cannot do it this way,” the bench said. It told Sharma that he was inviting more trouble for himself and warned that the court was not at present embarking on starting an investigation into his assets but would certainly do so in future.
“You can ditch anyone on earth. A businessman, who cares for his reputation, will never do such things but you (Amrapali) are a habitual offender,” the bench said. Earlier, the apex court had assured state-run NBCC of funds to complete 46,575 flats of crisis-hit Amrapali Group at an estimated cost of Rs 8,500 crores and favoured a forensic audit of balance sheets of the private realtor to assess the extent of siphoning of funds by them. The NBCC had given a proposal for completion of 15 residential projects of Amrapali having 46,575 flats at an estimated cost of Rs 8,500 crore in 6-36 months.