In a relief to about 40,000 Amrapali home buyers, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the public sector undertaking (PSU) National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) to takeover all the 16 unfinished projects of the real estate major.
Roping in the NBCC, the bench of Justice Arun Misra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit told NBCC Chairman Anoop Kumar Mittal, who was present in the court, to prepare a comprehensive plan for completing the projects, which are at different stages of stalled construction, with a timeframe.
Describing the conduct of Amrapali as “unfair”, the court said: “This is not a matter that can linger on.”
The court gave NBCC 30 days’ time to submit the report and directed the next hearing of the matter on September 4.
The Amrapali Group and all the stakeholders were asked to furnish all the documents relating to the 16 projects to the NBCC.
The court directed the NBCC to undertake the completion of unfinished projects of Amrapali as it recalled its May 17, 2018 order permitting the real estate builder to complete the projects with the support of four other co-developers.
The court also directed the two auditors — one internal and other statutory auditor — to go into the accounts of the group and submit a report on the diversion of funds including their transfer to group’s other companies.
As the auditors told the court that they have not been given any paper relating to Amrapali Group’s finances since 2015, the court asked them to trace the movement of Rs 2,765 crore that was allegedly diverted from group’s six projects.
While advocate Gaurav Bhatia appearing for the Amrapali Group said that there was no diversion of funds and they were transmitted to group’s other companies for investment to create other assets.
In pursuance to the court’s August 1, 2018 order, the group submitted the account numbers of its 38 entities and court directed its registry to communicate to the banks in which these accounts are being operated to freeze them.
The court gave time till August 6 for submission of the personal account numbers of all the directors of the group’s companies.
Giving time till August 6, Justice Lalit said that “any siphoning off from the account from the date of an order would amount to contempt”.
The top court had on August 1 ordered attachment of all bank accounts and movable properties of 40 firms of the Amrapali Group including the freezing of bank accounts of all the directors of its 40 firms besides attaching their personal properties.
Durga Shankar Mishra, the Secretary of Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Development, apologized to the court after the bench said that his conduct along with that of the NBCC Chairman amounted to scuttling the court proceedings and was contempt of court.
Secretary Mishra and NBCC Chairman Mittal were summoned by the court after it expressed its anguish as to how the NBCC could proceed with the matter and issue advertisement inviting co-developers for doing the work related to Amrapali Group without its approval when the top court is seized of the matter.
Amrapali Group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 hassled home buyers.
The group was facing insolvency proceedings initiated by the creditor banks for not repaying the loans, and has liabilities of about Rs 3,000 crore towards authorities.
It owes over Rs 1,000 crore to about 10 banks, and needs about Rs 3,000 crore to complete its ongoing projects.
The apex court has been hearing a batch of pleas filed by home buyers who have sought quashing of the National Company Law Tribunal order admitting insolvency proceedings against the group.
Buyers belong to the low and middle-income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders — financial and operational creditors, the home buyers’ plea said.