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Supreme Court allows auction of Unitech properties

At a brief hearing, Justice Chandrachud indicated that the issue of conducting a forensic audit of Unitech's financials may come up on December 7.

Managing Director of Telenor's India partner Unitech, Sanjay Chandra (C) leaves a court in New Delhi April 13, 2011. An Indian court on Wednesday put on trial the first set of officials and businessmen indicted in the country's biggest corruption case, a multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal that has weakened the government and put off some foreign investors.  (REUTERS)

Managing Director of Telenor's India partner Unitech, Sanjay Chandra (C) leaves a court in New Delhi April 13, 2011. An Indian court on Wednesday put on trial the first set of officials and businessmen indicted in the country's biggest corruption case, a multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal that has weakened the government and put off some foreign investors. (REUTERS)

 
 
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The Supreme Court on December 3 indicated that forensic audit of Unitech's financial accounts may be allowed and that the process may be discussed and finalised on Friday which is the next date of hearing, legal sources said.

At a brief hearing, Justice Chandrachud indicated that the issue of conducting a forensic audit of Unitech's financials may come up on December 7. The bail application of the promoters is also expected to be heard the same day, sources said.

Copies of Amrapali case orders were also placed before the bench, sources said, adding, the bench had wanted to see how forensic audit was conducted in the Amrapali case.

On November 30, the Supreme Court had allowed the auction of properties of the Unitech group located in Agra, Varanasi, Virar, Gurugram, Rohini, Noida and unencumbered properties in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Amicus Curiae had filed the report submitted by Justice (Rtd) S N Dhingra Committee. In July this year, the apex court had directed the panel headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra to move ahead with the auction of Unitech's unencumbered properties located in Agra, Varanasi, Tamil Nadu after Unitech, the embattled firm, did not deposit Rs 750 crore with the registry.

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Besides giving details of construction status of the projects, the Committee has noted in its report that in case of some of the stalled projects, a huge amount is required for completion and the time period for construction would be substantial. It had proposed that projects where 70 to 90 percent of the work has been carried out, may be taken up on priority for completion.

The court on November 30 directed the Committee to identify such projects where at least 70 percent of the work has been completed so that these projects can be taken up for early completion and has asked the Committee to make an assessment of the amount required for the completion of the remaining work and complete the other logistical formalities. “The Committee may carry out this exercise at the earliest preferably within two months,” the order said.

The apex court also permitted the Dhingra Committee to sell Unitech’s stake in two lands one Virar and Gurugram and its stake in Adventure Parks in Rohini and Noida, Pawanshree Agrawal, amicus curiae in the Unitech case, told Moneycontrol.

Unitech had filed a list of 10 unencumbered properties that includes land situated at Virar (Mumbai); land situated at Gurgaon measuring 5.14 acres; 60 percent holding in Unitech Hotels Pvt. Ltd.; 50 percent holding in Adventure Island Ltd. (Rohini Amusement Park, Delhi); and 41.95 percent stakeholding in Entertainment City Ltd. (Noida Amusement Park); and unsold inventory of unfinished/units in completed projects, as per the court order.

There are also other unencumbered lands available for sale. These include three lands located in Ernakulum district, Kerala; one in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh, one in Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu and one in Sindhu Durg in Maharashtra. The committee has been given the go-ahead to sell these unencumbered properties as well, the court order said.

The Dhingra Committee had initiated the process of e-auction of the 355 acres land at Sriperumbudur through HDFC Realty as the auctioneer. An advertisement was published for the sale of land on November 19 after which a buyer had evinced interest.

“The buyer in question was called for negotiations and after initial negotiations, an offer of Rs 78 lakh per acre to purchase the land was enhanced to Rs.81 per acre. This is obviously subject to further enhancement on negotiations. In order to establish its bona fides, the buyer has submitted a bank guarantee of Rs 5 crores with the Committee in the name of the registrar, Supreme Court of India and proposes to pay an initial amount of Rs 50 crores (including the above amount of Rs.5 crores) while executing an MOU. The balance is proposed to be deposited within a period of fifteen to eighteen months. The period for payment is likely to be shortened in negotiations with the Committee,” the order said.

The apex court has permitted amicus curiae to deposit the draft of Rs 5 crore submitted in favour of the court registry.

Dhingra Committee’s report indicates the steps which have been taken for conducting auction of the lands situated at Agra, measuring 76.37 acres and at Varanasi, measuring 112.56 acres. No bid has been received for either of the two properties. The Committee intends to revise the conditions of auction and to publicise its proposals in the market about the proposed sale of the lands at Agra and Varanasi, the order says.

“We permit the Committee to do so and request it to take all necessary steps to ensure the disposal of the lands at Agra and Varanasi,” the apex court order said.

The Dhingra Committee has in its report furnished details of the status pertaining to five construction projects and released an amount of Rs 2.14 crore on the basis of bills submitted by Unitech for completing construction. It has indicated that 80 flats out of 147 have been completed at Unihomes, Mohali and the architect is to carry out inspection within a period of one week. By end January 2019, 147 flats are to be completed so that possession can be handed over to the purchasers, the court order said.

It noted that work of Vistas, Gurgaon and Unihomes 117 Noida is in progress. “Though the work on the remaining two projects has not commenced as yet, it is likely to commence at an early date,” it said.

The apex court had on October 30 last year said that Unitech’s MD Sanjay Chandra would be granted bail only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December-end.

Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 last year had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home-buyers of Unitech projects' -- 'Wild Flower Country' and 'Anthea Project' -- situated in Gurgaon in Haryana.

vandana.ramnani@nw18.com
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Dec 3, 2018 01:56 pm

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