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SC orders auction of Amrapali Group properties to generate money for unfinished projects

SC has also called for the forensic audit of properties owned by Amrapali Group directors and promoters.

SC orders auction of Amrapali Group properties to generate money for unfinished projects

NEW DELHI: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Thursday called for auctioning the properties of the real estate firm Amrapali Group in order to generate money for the completion of its various unfinished projects. The top court preferred the auction of the firm's 16 properties by the NBCC, to give the PSU an initial corpus to start work on the stalled projects.

In its order, the Supreme Court said, ''Initially Amrapali's 16 properties in India, including commercials, would be auctioned and later personal properties of company's promoters and directors will be auctioned or sold to generate money for completion of its unfinished projects.''

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit also ordered a forensic audit of the firm and its promoters to gauge the extent of financial wrongdoings.

NBCC offered to the court that it can start construction on the 15 stalled projects with a capital of Rs 1,000 crore and the remaining amount of Rs 7,500 crore could be given in quarterly instalments of Rs 250 crore.

The top court also brought CMD of Amrapali Group Anil Sharma under its scanner for declaring his assets worth Rs 67 crore as against Rs 847 crore declared in his election affidavit filed during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when he had unsuccessfully contested as a JD(U) candidate from Bihar's Jehanabad constituency. 

The bench said the records regarding how Sharma's assets, which were worth Rs 847 crore, have now come to be worth only Rs 67 crore in a span of just four years, have not been placed before it so far.

The top court passed its order while hearing a batch of petitions filed against the construction firm by several home buyers and unsatisfied customers, and posted the matter for hearing on September 12. 

The Supreme Court had last month said that the only way to secure over Rs 5,112 crore from real estate major Amrapali Group for construction of pending projects by the NBCC (India) Ltd is to sell the individual properties of the directors of the company.

The bench said that residential projects of Amrapali in the National Capital Region seem prima facie illegal and its real estate business is like "a well-operated cobweb".

Amrapali Group has to "come out with clean hands", the bench observed while directing it to provide detailed data of its unencumbered properties.

The apex court had said: "It seems that it is a well-operated cobweb and once you get into it, you would not be able to come out of it. They have such huge liability to pay to NOIDA, Greater NOIDA, property taxes and secured creditors that what will be left after selling its unencumbered properties is a pittance."

The bench asked the realtor to file an affidavit in seven days having details of all the directors who have even served for a few months in the group and their individual properties and bank accounts and made it clear that it would not touch the bona fide directors.

It also asked the group to clear the pending dues of electricity in the projects, observing that it is the company`s prime responsibility to clear all arrears.

On August 8, the apex court had asked the directors of the group to file details of all their movable and immovable assets along with valuation, and warned them that they would be rendered homeless if they try "to play smart."

The court had clarified that all the properties of the directors would be sold if the company failed to raise Rs 5,112 crore required to complete its unfinished housing projects and directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange the money.

On August 1, the bench had slammed the group for playing "fraud and dirty games" with it and ordered the freezing of bank accounts of all the directors of its 40 firms, besides attaching their personal properties.

Public sector undertaking NBCC (India) Ltd -- formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd -- was also directed to take over all the 16 unfinished projects of the Amrapali Group.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers.

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 to admit insolvency proceedings against the group.

The buyers belong to low and middle-income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders, the financial and operational creditors, the home-buyers` plea said.

(With Agency Inputs)