Former Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court that either their bail pleas be heard by it or they be allowed to move the trial court for securing relief in a financial fraud case in which they are in custody for over five years.
During the hearing, the top court asked the Noida authority to process the layout and building plans of Unitech Group, without asking for the upfront payment of dues.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah was told by senior advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for Chandra brothers, that both of them are lodged in jail for over five years and six months in the case lodged by Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police for financial fraud for which maximum sentence is seven years imprisonment.
The bench asked what happened to the precondition of deposition of Rs 750 crore in the court for securing bail.
Dave said that the condition was imposed in a plea for interim bail but now the charge sheet has been filed and they are seeking regular bail.
“We want either this court to hear our regular bail plea or allow us to move the court concerned for bail plea,” he said, adding that there are other cases also pending against them including of Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which a charge sheet has been filed.
The bench then asked Dave to file all the relevant orders passed in the matter and observed that it gives no pleasure to the court to keep a person behind bars.
“We will see what can be done,” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on February 8.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, appearing for the board of Unitech Group, said that they have got approval of homebuyers for construction of housing society in sectors 96, 97, 98, 113 and 117 of Noida.
“We want that our building plans, layouts and other approvals be granted by the authority without asking for the upfront payment of dues,” Venkataraman said, adding that they will be paying the current charges.
Senior advocate Ravindra Kumar, appearing for Noida authority and Greater Noida authority, said that there are no homebuyers and Unitech Group wants to construct buildings without paying the dues.
“This court has to decide on the payment of dues to the authority. In Haryana the situation is different as Unitech has purchased land over there but in Noida and Greater Noida, we have allotted them the land,” he said.
The bench noted that since homebuyers have expressed confidence for construction of projects in sectors 96, 97, 98, 113 and 117, the Noida authority may process the layout, building plans and grant other approvals without asking for upfront payment of dues.
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It said that this court would hear arguments on payment of dues to Noida authority and Greater Noida authority later.
The top court also allowed release of around Rs 15 crore deposited by 548 fixed deposit holders due to medical emergencies, whose names have been cleared by Justice (retired) A M Sapre-led committee.
On August 17 last year, the top court had asked the board of management of Unitech Group to upload on its website the timeline for completion of its stalled projects for the benefit of the hassled homebuyers.
It also asked the board to upload within 48 hours the newly revised payment plan under which the homebuyers are required to make payments and asked the flat buyers to give their suggestions or feedback, if any, to the board of management, which would facilitate the court in passing the orders in this regard.
The top court had said that the funds receivable from the homebuyers or unsold inventories shall be used only for the construction purpose and would not be allowed to be diverted for any other purposes.
It had also approved the plan of the committee headed by former apex court judge A M Sapre in making the refund to the homebuyers especially those who are in urgent medical need after consulting with them for 15 days starting from September 15 till September 30, 2022.
The bench said that the Sapre committee will submit its report by the first week of October to the court, which if approved, would direct the release of funds to the homebuyers.
The Noida authority and Greater Noida authority have raised serious objections on aspects related to the payment to them and said that huge stretches of land have been given to Unitech, which had failed all kinds of deadlines including for starting the construction at the site.
Kumar had pointed out that despite being statutory bodies, Noida authority and Greater Noida authority have been left out of the funds to be payable to them and the dues from Unitech could be estimated to be around Rs 10,000 crore.
The top court had appointed Sapre to look into the policy and finalization of standard operating procedure for monetization of project land assets and non-project land assets of Unitech.
The ED had filed a fresh charge sheet before a court here in connection with its money laundering probe against realty group Unitech, its ex-promoter brothers Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, and others.
The ED had made a claim in November, 2021 that it had unearthed a “secret underground office” here which was being operated by Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons Sanjay and Ajay when on parole or bail.
Both Sanjay and Ajay, in jail since August 2017, are accused of allegedly siphoning off homebuyers’ money.