Supreme Court expresses surprise over the arrest of IRP in Jaypee-Infratech matter; orders his immediate release

Greater Noida police had arrested Jain in Mumbai on March 1. The arrest was made following an FIR lodged against him for alleged non-implementation of safety recommendations along the Yamuna Expressway.

The Supreme Court on March 2 expressed surprise over the arrest of court-appointed Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) Anuj Jain, who had been tasked to manage the affairs of embattled Jaypee Infratch Limited (JIL), in a criminal case by Uttar Pradesh police and ordered that he be released immediately ‘without imposing any conditions.’

“We are appalled to see that the manner in which the Uttar Pradesh Police has handled this case emanating from FIR No.0098/2021, registered at Police Station Beta-II in District Greater Noida, including to take the extreme step to arrest the IRP, Anuj Jain, who was working in that capacity pursuant to the order passed by the court and entrusted with the functioning of the company in question,” the order said.

“We direct immediate release of the applicant, Anuj Jain, who is presently in custody of Police Station, Beta-II, District Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh and had been produced today before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Gautam Buddh Nagar,” it said.

The bench was surprised over the state government’s response that the Investigating Officer, Bijendra Singh, was of the view that the IRP may leave India at any time to avoid the prosecution and thought it necessary to arrest him from Mumbai to secure his presence.

“It is seen that the police officer dealing with the case is not familiar with the provision of privilege of interim resolution appointed by the court in terms of Section 233 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy case,” the order said.

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Greater Noida police had arrested Jain in Mumbai on March 1. The arrest was made following an FIR lodged against him for alleged non-implementation of safety recommendations along the Yamuna Expressway.

The FIR had alleged that Jaypee Infratech Limited (JIL), the operator of the 165-kilometer long Yamuna Expressway, and its IRP Anuj Jain have not taken up safety measures suggested by the IIT in its safety audit conducted in 2018 to reduce road accidents. The Expressway has so far witnessed 728 deaths since 2016.

Anuj Jain was appointed by the Supreme Court under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and tasked to ensure functioning of Jaypee Infratch until the resolution process to resurrect the embattled company was decided.

The court ordered the Greater Noida police and the magistrate concerned to release Jain without imposing any condition upon receiving its order through e-mail.

“We will examine this aspect of the matter elaborately at appropriate time by treating this application as substantive writ petition filed by the applicant under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and to be numbered accordingly,” it ordered.

“We further direct the Investigating Officer not to take any coercive action against the applicant in connection with the subject F.I.R. until further orders,” it ordered.

The writ petition has been listed after two weeks.

On August 6, 2020, the Supreme Court transferred to itself the appeals pending before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against the NBCC plan to acquire debt-ridden Jaypee Infratech and construct over 20,000 pending flats.

The top court said that all the appeals before NCLAT and the apex court will be heard together to avoid further delay in the execution of the scheme.

The NBCC has challenged the modifications made by the NCLT in the original resolution plan submitted by it and as approved by the committee of creditors (CoC) of Jaypee Infratech Ltd (JIL).

In August 2020, the Supreme Court heard the appeals filed by several homebuyers and NBCC challenging the NCLAT order that gave conditional approval to state-owned NBCC to implement its proposal to acquire Jaypee infratech.

On March 3, state-owned NBCC had received approval from the NCLT to acquire debt-laden Jaypee Infratech through an insolvency process  and complete over 20,000 pending flats over the next three and half years.

The tribunal had also ordered that the Rs 750 crore deposited by Jaypee Infratech's parent firm Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) with the registry of the Supreme Court would be part of the resolution plan.

Jaypee Infratech went into an insolvency process in August 2017 after the NCLT admitted an application by an IDBI Bank-led consortium.

Anuj Jain was appointed as an IRP to conduct insolvency process and also manage the affairs of the company.

In December 2019, a committee of creditors (CoC) comprising 13 banks and around 21,000 homebuyers approved the resolution plan of NBCC with 97.36 per cent vote in favour. NBCC's proposal was approved by the lenders in the third round of bidding process to find a buyer for Jaypee Infratech.

In its bid, the NBCC had proposed to complete over 20,000 pending flats in housing projects launched by Jaypee Infratech in Noida and Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh). Homebuyers' claim amounting to Rs 13,364 crore and lenders' claim worth Rs 9,783 crore were admitted.

On November 6, 2019, the top court directed completion of Jaypee Infratech's insolvency process within 90 days and the revised resolution plan to be invited only from the NBCC and Suraksha Realty.
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Mar 2, 2021 09:27 pm

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