Unitech case: Embattled firm informs SC it has finalised a land deal worth Rs 400 crore

Embattled real estate firm Unitech on Monday informed the apex court that it has finalised a land deal worth Rs 400 crore with a buyer that will help it finish incomplete projects and refund homebuyers. The next date of hearing is set for February 16.

The company, through its lawyer, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that it was negotiating with a company to sell two portions of it lands in Chennai for around Rs 170 crore and Rs 229.45 crore respectively.

The bench, also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, directed that an official from the buyer be present in court and give its financial credential on February 16 with a demand draft for Rs 400 crore in the registrar’s name to show that it was inclined to purchase Unitech’s land.

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"If the company is desirous of purchasing the property at the value indicated (by Unitech), it can bring a draft of the said amount in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court so that further directions can be issued," the court said at a hearing that lasted 15 minutes.

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The Supreme Court , however, did not comment on the request of Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra to grant him custody parole for eight weeks to enable him to arrange money to refund homebuyers and complete the ongoing housing projects.

The apex court also directed that Unitech Ltd's homebuyers who are interested in taking possession of their flats as per its present status, could intimate advocate Pawan Shree Aggarwal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, about it, says Varun Chopra, advocate.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the company, told the bench that the court had directed Chandra to deposit Rs 750 crore with it to safeguard the interests of homebuyers and the best effort was being made for it.

He also referred to the dues which the Telangana government allegedly owed to Unitech for the payment made by the firm in 2007. "I (Unitech) have to recover money. These are amounts which I cannot recover because I am in jail. The court may consider granting custody parole for eight weeks," he said.

Towards the end of the hearing, the company told the bench that despite the apex court's order, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had passed orders against Unitech. The bench said that it would deal with it separately.

The court had earlier directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra's meeting with his company officials and lawyers so that he could arrange money for refunding the homebuyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.

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

Earlier, the court stayed the December 8 order of the National Company Law Tribunal allowing the Centre to take over the management of embattled realty firm Unitech Ltd. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), on December 8, had suspended all the eight directors of the realty firm over allegations of mismanagement and siphoning of funds and had authorised the Centre to appoint its 10 nominees on the board. In its petition filed under section 241 of the Companies Act, 2013, the government had requested the tribunal to remove the eight directors and said that the company has over Rs 6,000 crore debt and over 16,000 undelivered units from a total of nearly 70 projects.

The NCLT, in its order, had also said the government must give name of its nominees by December 20 and restrained Unitech's eight suspended directors from selling their personal and company properties.

On December 12 Supreme Court expressed serious apprehension about the manner in which the Centre moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to take control of embattled real estate firm Unitech Ltd’s board without seeking its permission

Attorney General KK Venugopal conceded that 「this should not happened. The government should not have approached NCLT when Supreme Court was seized of the matter relating to Unitech’s failure to refund homebuyers,」 said a lawyer present at the hearing on Wednesday.

The stay of NCLT’s order on December 9 had meant that Unitech’s promoter Sanjay Chandra, who is currently in jail, could resume negotiations from prison for sale of assets to generate Rs 750 crore that he had been asked to deposit in court by December end.

The apex court had on October 30 said jailed businessman Chandra will be granted bail only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December end. The top court had earlier directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra's meeting with his company officials and lawyers so that he could arrange money to refund the home buyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.