NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday said 30 days will be given to over 1,000 home buyers who have opted for refund from the builder, Unitech Ltd, to reconsider the decision and take possession of their flats.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its report, filed in a sealed cover before the top court, said that it has attached properties worth Rs 650 crore of Unitech Ltd group in connection with the money laundering charges against it and others, out of which Rs 450 crore is recoverable.
The top court also directed the new management of Unitech Ltd to prioritise the category of home buyers, who are seeking refunds based on the parameters of age, health, distress and status of the project in which they have booked the flats.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah told amicus curiae, advocate Pawanshree Agrawal, to open the web portal for 30 days so that 1,197 home buyers, who have opted for refund, can be given one last chance to reconsider their decision and opt for possession of their flats.
The portal was closed for registration in December 2019.
The bench said that many of the home buyers, who have opted for refund due to delay and uncertainty over getting the possession of their flats, giving them one final opportunity may help them to reconsider their decision.
It said there are some home buyers who have got their principal amount refunded but they have not submitted their title deeds and 'no objection certificate'.
"They should also be given a final opportunity of 30 days' time to submit their documents to the new management so that their flat be considered in the category of unsold inventory," it said.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for ED, said the probe agency has filed a status report on the stage of investigation and till now it has attached Unitech Group's properties worth Rs 650 crore out of which Rs 450 crore is recoverable.
She said that they also need some directions from the court to which the bench said it will take up the status report and the application for consideration on Wednesday.
Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for Delhi Police, said it has registered 66 FIRs till now, of which charges are to be framed in 64 and in two FIRs the investigation is pending.
The bench asked him to file a status report on the cases pending against office bearers of the old management of Unitech Ltd.
Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, appearing for new management of Unitech Ltd, submitted a convenience note to the court and said that certain directions are needed.
He submitted that the new management has prepared a resolution plan under which three categories have been made depending on the stage of the project and those which are in advanced stage shall be completed first.
The bench said it will continue hearing the matter on Wednesday and would take up the ED's status report for consideration.
On June 4, the top court had granted 15-day interim bail to Unitech's former promoter Sanjay Chandra to attend the last rites of his father-in-law after which he had surrendered.
On August 14 last year, the top court had dismissed the bail plea of Chandra, who was a month earlier granted interim bail for 30 days on "humanitarian grounds" as both his parents had tested positive for COVID-19, and asked him to surrender within three days.
The apex court had also dismissed the bail application of Chandra's brother Ajay Chandra, who is in jail since August 2017.
Both Sanjay and Ajay are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers' money.
The top court in its October 2017 order had asked them to deposit Rs 750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017.
The Chandras have claimed that they complied with the court's conditions and they have deposited an amount in excess of Rs 750 crore and therefore they are granted regular bail.
The top court had noted that since the October 2017 order, significant events have taken place and the apex court had directed a forensic audit to be conducted by Grant Thornton.
It said that the court had earlier directed the Centre to ensure that all aspects, which were adverted to in the forensic report, should be investigated by the competent agencies, including with regard to the aspect of money laundering.
The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects' -- 'Wild Flower Country' and 'Anthea Project' -- situated in Gurugram.
On January 20 last year, in a respite to over 11,000 hassled home buyers of Unitech, the top court had allowed the Centre to take total management control of the realty firm and appoint a new board of nominee directors.
The apex court had approved the name of retired Haryana cadre IAS officer Yudvir Singh Malik as chairman and managing director (CMD) of the new board and directed that the existing board of directors of the company would stand superseded.
In 2018, the top court had directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in Grant Thornton India.
The forensic auditors had submitted their report which said that Unitech Ltd received around Rs 14,270 crore from 29,800 home buyers from 2006-2014 and around Rs 1,805 crore from six financial institutions for the construction of 74 projects.