HYDERABAD: The High Court on Tuesday granted relief of sorts to villa owners in the controversial Emaar township by directing the state government to register their properties.
However, judge L Narasimha Reddy directed the plot owners to deposit a sum of `15,000 per sq yard with the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Investment Corporation (APIIC) before going in for registration. The amount so deposited will be invested by the corporation in fixed deposits that will be in force till the writ petitions are disposed of finally.
The petitioners include the Boulder Hills Villa Owners Association, the Excelsior Owners Welfare Association and others who had bought plots in the township built by Emaar Properties in Manikonda, Nanakramguda and Gachibowli villages on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The villa plots became subject of litigation when APIIC alleged that Emaar contrived to water down its equity in the joint venture from 26 per cent to approximately 6 per cent, thereby nudging it out of the profits. While a CBI investigation into the scam, ordered by the state government is in process, the villa buyers went to court seeking registration of their properties.
Delivering his ruling Tuesday, judge L Narasimha Reddy said, “The execution of the sale deeds will not in any way effect the ongoing CBI investigation or trial and they can certainly be made subject to the outcome of the ongoing proceedings.”
The judge said that plots are understood to have been sold by Emaaar for about `50,000 per sq yard while recording only `5000 per square year on paper.
Since APIIC’s share in the original joint venture was 26 per cent, a price of about `12,500 per sq yard may be deemed to be the corporation’s share of the proceeds.As for the question whether any fraud was committed in the selection process, it would be known only after the proceedings initiated by the CBI assume finality, he said. Till such a time, the plot buyers could not be kept in suspended animation. Therefore, this order to protect the interests of both plot buyers and the corporation.
Delivering this directive, the judge made stinging observations on the ways of companies purporting to bring in foreign investment into India and the favouritism shown by governments in seeking such investment. “Projects to create world class facilities are taken up to suit the convenience of the favourites of the government and multinational companies. Special purpose vehicles are brought into existence to facilitate such companies with a view to overcome the rigours of the law,” he said.
“The petitioners deserve to be granted relief,” judge Narasimha Reddy said. “The reason is that Emaar has already got 258 acres of land, valued at `29 lakh per acre. As against the total cost of `74.92 crore, it parted with only Rs 3.6 crore. The rest of it is in the form of shares and debentures. These agencies have enriched themselves by receiving almost the entire consideration from the petitioners. Unless the sale deeds are executed, the said agencies are likely to take advantage of the situation, and there will not be any possibility for recovering the amounts. If sale deeds are executed, a semblance of clarity will exist”, he observed.