Deposit money as directed, Tihar is not far, Supreme Court warns Jaypee

Jaypee Infratech

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed realtor Jaiprakash Associate Limited (JAL), holding firm of Jaypee Infratech Ltd (JIL), to provide details of its housing projects in the country, saying homebuyers should either get their houses or their money back.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, refused to accord urgent hearing on a plea of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking its nod to initiate insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal against JAL and said it would be dealt with at a later stage.

“Lower middle-class homebuyers of JAL cannot be made to run from forum to forum. We want to protect homebuyers,” the Bench said while refusing urgent hearing on the RBI’s plea.

The Bench asked Pawanshree Agrawal, appointed amicus curiae to assist it, to set up a second portal to take note of grievances of the homebuyers, and said the grievance portal be “kept alive”. Earlier, a similar portal was directed to be set up for the hassled homebuyers of JIL.

The court considered the submission of senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing eight independent directors of JAL, that they were old and resided in different parts of the country and should be exempted from personal appearance. The SC exempted the directors from personal appearance. But reiterated its earlier direction that neither would they leave the country without its prior nod, nor would they alienate or create third-party interests in their personal properties.

Terming the interest of homebuyers “important”, the Bench said that JAL will have to deposit money in pursuance of its earlier order.

Cautioning against any sale of assets of JIL and JAL, and against merger or de-merger, the Bench said, “We are only concerned with the deposit of money and any such move (sale or merger, etc) will amount to contempt of court... if anyone does that, then Tihar (jail) is not far from here.”

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and lawyer Anupam Lal Das, appearing for JAL, said that only eight per cent of homebuyers have opted for refund of money and 92 per cent of them wanted delivery of their homes.

Rohatgi said that JAL has deposited Rs 4.25 billion with the apex court registry so far, and would deposit Rs 1.25 billion more by January 25, as directed on December 15 last year to safeguard the interests of homebuyers. “We have sold several properties and are in the process of loan restructuring,” he said.

The SC, which had asked JAL to deposit Rs 20 billion with its registry, later asked them to deposit the amount in instalments. It had asked the firm to deposit Rs 5.50 billion in three tranches by January 25.

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