SC orders issuance of public notice, for auctioning Unitech’s assets

[] The Supreme Court has ordered the issuance of a public notice, inviting objections against the auctioning of assets of Unitech Limited, to raise money to pay back the dues of hassled home buyers

The Supreme Court, on April 9, 2018, took note of all the unencumbered assets of real estate major Unitech Limited and ordered that a public notice be issued, inviting objections for auctioning them, to realise the dues of the hassled home buyers. A bench, headed by chief justice Dipak Misra, also imposed a cost of Rs 75 lakhs on Om Shakti Agency (Madras) Pvt Ltd, for its submission that it cannot deposit Rs 90 crores with the apex court registry, in lieu of purchasing Unitech Ltd’s property near Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

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The company had earlier said it was going to purchase the land of Unitech Ltd and deposit the money with the apex court, which, in turn, would have disbursed it to the home buyers who wanted their money back. The bench, which also comprised justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, took strong note of the submission that the company cannot deposit the money, as it does not have the required funds.

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[] SC asks Unitech to give list of assets, says would auction them to pay home buyers

The apex court also asked lawyer Pawan Shri Agarwal, appointed as an amicus curiae to assist it in addressing the grievances of the home buyers, to issue a public notice in prominent dailies, for ascertaining that the properties were free from encumbrances and may be auctioned. The bench, meanwhile, considered the submission of senior advocate Ranjit Kumar that a Bengaluru-based company has taken over one of the subsidiaries of Unitech and would be paying about Rs 100 crores, which will be deposited with the apex court.

Unitech Ltd also said it was going to dispose of its 26 acres land near Bengaluru and asked the court to allow it to enter into the sale agreement with the purchaser.

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The court had earlier restrained the real estate company from selling or alienating its properties. Today, the bench modified the order and allowed the company to go ahead with the sale of land in Bengaluru. The apex court considered the submission that several civil courts and tribunals, have been taking coercive steps against the company and its jailed director Sanjay Chandra. No court or authority shall take further coercive action against Unitech Ltd or its subsidiaries, it said, adding that the criminal courts can proceed with their matters against them. The bench posted the matter for hearing on May 2, 2018.

Earlier, the court had asked Unitech Limited and its MD Sanjay Chandra, to give a list of its unencumbered properties in India and abroad and made it clear that they would be auctioned, to clear dues of home buyers. The bench had granted the real estate firm and its incarcerated MD time till March 26, 2018, to give a list of its unencumbered properties in India and abroad.

The apex court had, on October 30, 2017, said that its MD Sanjay Chandra would be granted bail, only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December-end. The top court had also directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers, so that he could arrange money to refund the home-buyers, as well as complete the ongoing housing projects. Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court, after the Delhi High Court, on August 11, 2017, 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 Gurugram, in Haryana.

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