New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on Amrapali Group, a major real estate company, by penalising it extensively for committing fraud on thousands of homebuyers who invested their hard-earned money in its various projects.
A Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra cancelled registration of Amrapali Group of Companies under RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) along with various lease deeds granted in its favour by the Noida and the Greater Noida authorities for various projects.
“We hold that the Noida and the Greater Noida Authorities shall have no right to sell the flats of homebuyers or the land leased out for the realisation of their dues. Their dues shall have to be recovered from the sale of other properties (of the Amrapali Group), which have been attached”, said the court on the collusion between the authorities and the errant builder.
The same direction would be applicable to various banks, claiming for recovery of their dues from the embattled real estate group, it said.
The court observed the group prima facie committed violation of the FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) and other fraudulent activities, including money laundering, and recommended a thorough investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to identify people involved in the same.
The court roped in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to initiate appropriate disciplinary action against Anil Mittal, a chartered accountant, for his alleged involvement in facilitating the fraud that surfaced after the forensic audit of the group. The court has directed submission of an action-taken report (ATR) against Mittal in six months.
The Bench also directed various companies/directors and other incumbents, who had access to homebuyers’ money according to the forensic audit, to deposit the same in the court within one month from today.
The court ordered initiation of action against the lease-holders of pending projects as well. The ministries of the central government as well as the state government and the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, “are directed to ensure that appropriate action is taken against lease-holders of similar projects at Noida and Greater Noida and other places in various states, where projects have not been completed.”
The court through this direction reinforced its commitment to safeguard the homebuyers’ interest, and asked the authorities concerned to ensure that projects were completed in a time-bound manner as contemplated in RERA.
The apex court appointed R. Venkataramani, senior advocate, as the court receiver. “The right of the lessee shall vest in the court receiver and he shall execute through authorised person on his behalf, the tripartite agreement and do all other acts as may be necessary and also to ensure that title is passed on to homebuyers and possession is handed over to them”, said the court.
Noida and Greater Noida authorities hase also been directed to execute the tripartite agreement within one month concerning the projects where homebuyers are residing and issue completion certificate.