Unitech heads lose special facilities in jail for not giving details to auditor
The court had in December 2018 asked Thornton to audit the company’s account since January 1, 2016.Updated: May 10, 2019 04:53 IST
Displeased with Unitech’s alleged lack of co-operation in its forensic audit by an independent auditor, the Supreme Court on Thursday withdrew the special facilities provided to its jailed directors, Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, besides indicating that the probe against the real estate firm would be handed over to the CBI.
A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud was exasperated when the independent auditor, Grant Thornton, informed the court that Unitech was not providing details of around 250 bank accounts and whatever information they have was procured by the banks after the accounting consultant approached them directly.
The court had in December 2018 asked Thornton to audit the company’s account since January 1, 2016.
“We are really frustrated as the matter is going on for two years. More than 16,000 homebuyers are looking at us, expecting justice,” the bench told senior counsel Pinaki Misra, appearing for Unitech.
The court then ordered the special amenities extended to the Chandra brothers in Tihar jail shall be withdrawn forthwith and the order would be made effective on Thursday itself. Misra, however, denied any illegality and said Unitech was co-operating with the auditors.
As per an earlier SC order, the Tihar jail authorities had provided special facilities such as computers, a conference room and internet facilities to the two directors for negotiating land deals to raise funds for the release of the Chandra brothers.The money had to be deposited with the court, as per the order.
The court recorded the statement of Thornton’s counsel and said if Unitech continued to disobey its order, then the judges would be left with no option but to ask the CBI to conduct a probe against the company. The Chandra brothers have been in jail since 2017 after Delhi Police arrested them in connection with a case lodged by homebuyers. They need to deposit Rs 750 crore to secure their release, as directed by the court. The company is yet to deposit Rs 450 crore.
The court also dismissed an application filed by the brothers seeking custody parole. The court asked the Attorney General to intervene on behalf of the government and give suggestions to the court to resolve the difficulties faced by homebuyers. In a verbal observation, the court said: “It is the duty of both the government and court to look after the citizens and thousands of homebuyers.”
Urging the Centre to intervene and warning that it would ask the government to take over the beleaguered firm, the court asked the AG to appear before it on July 5 with a concrete proposal.
The court reiterated its March order that restrained Unitech from issuing demand letters until the flats were ready for possession. It issued the directive after advocate ML Lahoty, appearing for the homebuyers, said his clients had received the letters despite the March order.
The court took up the matter on Thursday after Lahoty sought a hearing before the court breaks for summer recess.
Appearing before the bench on Wednesday, Lahoty said no progress was made by the auditor due to lack of co-operation by Unitech management. He also wanted the court to ask for a progress report from the Justice SN Dhingra committee, set up by the SC to monitor the construction of flats by Unitech.
First Published: May 10, 2019 04:53 IST