New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday assured hassled home buyers, who had booked flats in Unitech group projects, of refund of their investment or delivery of homes while cautioning the firm’s promoters that they will not get bail till the customers’ grievances are redressed.
The apex court refused to grant interim bail to jailed Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra till September 15 in a case of alleged forgery lodged by home buyers of its Gurugram-based housing project.
Compounding the woes of the Chandra brothers, a Delhi court at Saket allowed the police to interrogate them for the next seven days in connection with three FIRs alleging that they had cheated home buyers of their hard-earned money in its projects at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
The development in the trial court happened hours after the apex court refused interim bail to them in another case.
“Whoever (investors) wants their money back will get their money back and those who want flats will get their flats,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, appointed advocate Pawan C Aggrawal as an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter and asked him to furnish details including the number of projects of the Unitech group, number of flat buyers seeking either refund or flats, the amount of money already refunded by the group and number of flat buyers who have been paid the principal amount.
Advocate Abhimanyu Bhandari, appearing for the promoters, said he can pay back money to each investor before the court but for that he needed to work from his office and raise funds.
He sought interim bail for the Chandras and said the investors’ woes can only be solved if he is allowed to comeout of jail.
“Giving me interim bail will solve the problem but keeping me in custody will not solve the problem. I have to recover money from various stakeholders so that I can payback all those who want their refunds. But for that I need to work from office,” Bhandari said.
He said the promoters have complied with all conditions imposed by the court and, as on date, Rs 20 crore has been deposited in compliance with the earlier order. Several advocates tried to intervene in the matter saying they too have booked flats in the project but have not yet got the refunds.
“Just because you are member of bar, it does not mean you are above others. You will get the refund on pro-rata basis,” the bench said.
Bhandari argued that his clients have demonstrated their bonafides by complying with all the conditions and he will return money to everyone.
“First we will go project-wise and refund the amount to the consumers on pro-rata basis. We will look into the bail aspect on September 15,” the court said.
Chandra brothers are seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 rejected their plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home buyers of Unitech projects’ –‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’– situated in Gurugram.
The apex court had on September 1 said that although it is absolutely conscious that it is dealing with an application for bail, but “the consumers who have invested their money in various projects undertaken by the petitioners cannot be allowed to lurch in the dark. Their problem has to be solved”.
It had said that settlement of the problem can take place only in two ways–the consumers who are inclined to take possession of the flats can opt for the same and those who wanted their money back shall get the amount along with interest.
Three cases, in which the Chandras have been remanded to seven-day police custody by a local Delhi court, allege that they had cheated home buyers of its projects at Greater Noida. In one of the three FIRs, it has been alleged that the firm floated a residential project ‘Unitech Verve’ at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh in 2006 which was booked by complainant Ram Narain Aggarwal, a retired government employee, for an amount of Rs 16.77 lakh.
The flat was scheduled to be delivered to the complainant by December 2009, but he still has not got the possession, the FIR alleged.
The other two FIRs also alleged non-delivery of flats to hassled home buyers and fraud committed on them by promoters.