Payback time for Unitech directors
Sending out a strong message to real estate firm Unitech to pay up the homebuyers waiting endlessly for their refund, the Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated that if the company fails to deposit Rs 100 crore within the stipulated deadline of May 11, personal assets of all Directors of the company will be auctioned to realise the said amount.
In the past, the court had directed the Unitech and its subsidiaries to provide details of all unencumbered properties and issued public notice for inviting objections prior to proceeding with the auction.
On being informed that Rs 100 crore was yet to be deposited by the Unitech, a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, told all directors of the company to share details of their personal assets. The Bench said, “If the amount (of Rs 100 crore) is not realised, this court may direct auction of individual houses of directors.” The matter is listed for next hearing on May 14.
At the instance of petitioners, the Bench further restrained the directors from transferring or creating any third party interests on their personal property and warned of contempt action. The Bench even directed the Unitech’s lawyer to enlist all encumbered properties of the company that are either mortgaged with banks or are under litigation along with details of the extent of encumbrance. The Bench observed, “If you (Unitech) do not get Rs 100 crore by next date, we will send all your directors to jail.”
Unitech counsel argued that the company had given possession to 996 homebuyers and was even depositing its liability towards orders passed by National Consumer Commission. The Bench made it clear this should not be a ruse for not depositing the money. Meanwhile, a company that co-owned land with Unitech in a Haryana housing project deposited Rs 40 crore with the court that would go into refund to homebuyers.
However, in a setback to the beleaguered real estate firm, a company, which promised to pay Rs 40 crore for buying out a Bengaluru property of Unitech, complained that till date, the papers pertaining to the land in question had not been shared. Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya who appeared for the said company said they were not consulted before Unitech promised the court to bring Rs 40 crore as sale consideration of the Bengaluru property. He said that the money will be paid provided the papers of the land are handed over as the land is not free from encumbrance.
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