The Supreme Court today set up a three-member panel headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra for "expeditious" auction of real estate major Unitech Ltd's unencumbered immovable properties of over 600 acres to refund the money to hassled home buyers.
Considering the plight of home buyers who are "waiting with concern to get their money refunded", a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra gave the liberty to Justice Dhingra to nominate a Chartered Accountant and a valuer for speedy auction of over 600 acres of unencumbered land of the firm. "We constitute a Committee headed by Justice S N Dhingra, former Judge of the High Court of Delhi. Justice Dhingra would be at liberty to nominate a Chartered Accountant and a valuer accredited with the Delhi High Court or this Court. "Justice S N Dhingra shall formulate suitable terms and conditions for auction of the above properties on as-is-where is basis, to be notified in the newspapers," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
Unitech Ltd has recently given a list of its unencumbered land properties located at Agra, Varanasi, Bangalore and near Chennai. The bench also asked lawyer Pawanshree Agarwal, who is assisting the court as the amicus curiae, and Abhinav Agrawal, the counsel for the real estate firm, to assist the Justice Dhingra panel in the auctioning of over 600 acre of land of the Unitech Ltd. "The purpose of nominating of two counsel is that the Committee can function smoothly. We request Justice Dhingra to proceed with the auction as expeditiously as possible, as the home buyers are waiting with concern to get their money refunded. The auction shall be subject to confirmation by this Court. The expenditure incurred by the Committee, including the fees, shall be met from the accrued interest….," the bench said.
The bench also took note of the fact that some home buyers wanted to take possession of their flats. Referring to its earlier order, the bench said the home buyers can be handed over the possession of their homes on "as is where is basis". The bench considered the submission of amicus curiae Agarwal that Rs 40 crore has been deposited with the apex court registry by one Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Limited (PULIL), which has taken up certain projects in joint venture with Unitech. However, the bench did not agree to the opposition of PULIL that it had only 40 per cent stakes in the joint venture projects with Unitech Ltd and hence the home buyers cannot be given the entire compensation from the money deposited by it.
"It may be stated here that the Amicus Curiae as per the order of this Court has created a portal in respect of the aforesaid categories. "We do not intend to make any distinction amongst the said categories and, accordingly, it is directed that amount be disbursed to the home buyers whose names find place in the portal created by the amicus curiae concerning the five projects and there has been no cavil over the same by the Pioneer Urban Land & Infrastructure Limited. "The list of the names shall be submitted by Pawanshree Agarwal to the Registry and the amount shall be disbursed on pro rata basis…," the bench said.
The home buyers of five projects in Gurgaon in Haryana — The Close (South), South City II Floors, Escape, Fresco, and Harmony — would be refunded from the Rs 40 crore deposited by PULIL, the court ordered and posted the matter for further hearing on July 5. Earlier, the apex court had ask all directors of Unitech Ltd and its subsidiaries to furnish details of their personal assets and warned them that if Rs 100 crore was not deposited by May 11, their assets would be auctioned.
It had also said that the unencumbered properties of the real estate firm would be auctioned to realise the dues of the hassled home buyers. It had asked the real estate firm, which has already given the list of unencumbered properties, to also provide details of their encumbered assets with specific information about the "extent of loans or encumbrances". The apex court had on April 9 taken note of the list of all the unencumbered assets of Unitech Ltd and ordered that a public notice be issued inviting objections for auctioning them to realise the dues of the hassled home buyers. Sanjay Chandra, the MD of the firm, is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 last year had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home-buyers of Unitech projects' — 'Wild Flower Country' and 'Anthea Project' — situated in Gurgaon in Haryana.
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