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NEW DELHI: Taking a tough stand against real estate company Jaypee Group which failed to deposit Rs 2000 crore in the Supreme Court for refund of money to home-buyers in its projects, the apex court on Wednesday threatened to attach personal assets of promoters and directors of the firm and restrain them from selling any properties belonging to them and their immediate family members.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said thousands of home-buyers, who had invested in various projects of the company but had not been delivered the flats, must get back their money and made it clear to Jai Prakash Associates Ltd (JAL) that it had no option but to deposit the amount in the court. It said promoters and directors would be liable to face criminal proceedings for contempt if they sell any of their property without the court’s permission.
Giving a breathing space to the company, the court allowed it to pay the money in instalments — Rs 275 crore immediately, Rs 150 crore by December 13 and Rs 125 crore by end of the year. The court is likely to fix schedule for payment of the rest of the amount later.
“Neither the independent directors nor the promoter directors shall alienate their personal properties or assets in any manner, and if they do so, they will not only be liable for criminal prosecution but contempt of the court. That apart, we also direct that the properties and assets of their immediate and dependent family members should also not be transferred in any manner, whatsoever. Needless to say that the direction for deposit of Rs 2,000 crore shall remain as it is. The only indulgence is to pay the same in instalments,” the bench said.
At the end of the proceedings, in a lighter vein, the chief justice told the company officials “Achhe bacche bankar paisa jama kar do” (Deposit money as nice children).
In compliance of the apex court’s earlier order, all five promoters and eight independent directors were personally present in the court and filed their affidavit giving details of their assets. While addressing the top officials of the company, the bench said the court had nothing against them personally but the interest of home-buyers who invested their hard-earned money had to be protected at all costs. It said the company had gone up in the real estate sector at the cost of home-buyers and it must come down to refund the money.
“You have to deposit the amount, no matter whether you have to mortgage your properties, sell your properties or jewellery. You must pay the amount or we will attach your personal properties,” the bench told them.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Group, told the court that the company was making all-out efforts to give possession of the flats and more than 1,300 flats had been handed over to buyers. But their plea was opposed by senior advocate Ajit Sinha, arguing on behalf of home-buyers, who submitted that construction on many projects had not even been initiated and buyers wanted their money back and they were not interested in getting flats.
The bench also sympathised with the plight of home-buyers and said that most of them belonged to middle class and had invested their life’s savings from hard-earned money. It restrained the promoters and directors from selling their properties after attorney general K K Venugopal told the bench that the company was diverting the funds.
It also directed advocate Pawan Shree Agrawal, appointed as amicus curiae, to create an online portal where the home-buyers who had invested in Jaypee could claim for refund of their money. It directed the company to provide details of all its projects and pay Rs 5 lakh to Agrawal for creation of the portal.
It posted the case for January 10 and directed all independent directors and promoters to remain present on that day.