Costumers Win : SC orders attachment of Amrapali Group’s 5-star hotel, malls, cinema hall, factories

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NEW DELHI: Supreme Court of India (SC) has ordered attachment and sale of Amrapali group’s five-star hotel, cinema hall, malls and factories across India. The apex court also ordered attachment of four swanky corporate offices of the realty firm at Noida and Greater Noida, and asked the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Delhi to auction them.

The SC gave a window to the firm’s directors and their family members to return home-buyers’ money by the 10th of this month. The court also asked the company to explain by next week the diversion of around 3,000 crore rupees of home-buyers money for other purposes.

The apex court also issued notice to the Amrapali Group CMD Anil Sharma and its directors, Chief Financial officer and statutory auditor Anil Mittal, asking them why a criminal case for breach of trust should not be lodged against them.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit described the company a worst kind of cheater and a perfect liar for not complying with the court’s direction.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by home buyers who are seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in various projects of Amrapali Group.

The top court gave a window to the firm’s directors and their family members to return home-buyers’ money, if they have it, by December 10. It asked the firm to explain by next week the diversion of around Rs 3,000 crore of home-buyers money for other purposes.

“You (Amrapali Group) are a worst kind of cheater in the world. You have cheated the home buyers all along and now you want to sell the facilities created for them. The facility area created for the home buyers is not a charity you have done to them,” the bench said after it was told that the real estate firm wants to sell a nursery school, an open space and a nursing home to raise funds.

It gave 24 hours to the Amrapali Group to hand over the raw data files of the business transactions of the company including the vouchers, receipt and the required authorisation for the period of 2015-18, to the forensic auditors appointed by the court.

The bench pulled up the firm for repeated non- compliance with the court’s direction and not giving the data of business transactions for period of 2015-2018, to forensic auditors.

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“You are a perfect liar. You are a first degree liar. You have not given specific information what we have asked for in our earlier orders. We are not satisfied with your affidavit and you have only tried to manipulate the things. Despite our nine orders, you have not given specific information about business transactions for period 2015-18,” the bench said.

It directed the DRT, Delhi to auction all the attached properties including the hotel, malls, corporate offices, movie hall, factories and lands across India. Among the properties the court directed to be attached forthwith and auctioned by DRT include a five-star hotel Amrapali Holiday Inn Tech Park at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh; an FMCG company called Amrapali Biotech and Mums situated in Rajgir and Buxar districts of Bihar; Amrapali Mall in Gaya of Bihar; Amrapali Mall at Muzaffarpur in Bihar; Amrapali Mall, Bareilly in UP; Hitech City movie hall at Meerut, UP; Amrapali Precast factory at Greater Noida and land in Purnia in Bihar and Bhubneshwar in Orissa, apart from a villa in Goa.

The court also ordered attachment of fleet of luxury cars which were bought by the company from the home-buyers’ money. The court, while perusing the affidavit of Amrapali Group, pointed out that it has invested Rs 1,100 crore of home-buyers’ money in purchasing the shares of a sister company.

“How can you do it? It was not the promoters’ money, if they had put in the money with the company then it is understood. But how can the home-buyers’ money be used to purchase the shares. Give us all the details, who authorised to purchase the shares,” the bench said.

On being told that there were suspicion of ‘benami’ home buyers who have booked the flat at the paltry sum, the bench directed the forensic auditors appointed by the court to investigate the affairs of the company, to issue a notice owner of the flat and if no response is received then that property should be put on sale.

In a comprehensive affidavit placed before the apex court Anil Sharma has admitted diversion of Rs 2,996 crore to other group companies.

On November 13, in a massive crackdown on Amrapali Group for “wilful disobedience” of its orders, the apex court had attached the company’s 100-bed multi-speciality hospital, bank accounts, the building which houses its office, certain firms and a “benami” Villa in Goa. It had asked the CFO to deposit Rs 11.69 crore with its registry within three weeks. It also asked a statutory auditor Anil Mittal to pay Rs 47 lakh. It restrained the realty firm from alienating its companies through which it had transactions and ordered attachment of such firms.

The top court has also restrained Amrapali Group from creating any third party rights for 86 luxury cars and SUVs purchased from the company’s funds. The apex court had earlier warned the Amrapali Group for its repeated non-compliance and “hood-winking” of the court’s order saying that “writing is very clear on the wall”. It had also initiated contempt proceedings against Sharma and its directors for prima facie violating court’s order and thwarting the course of justice.

The court is seized of a batch of petitions filed by home buyers who are seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in projects of the Amrapali Group. (PTI)

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