Supreme Court orders attachment of bank accounts, properties of 40 Amrapali Group firms
The SC directed the Amrapali Group of companies, which are yet to hand over possession of flats to around 42,000 home buyers, to place before it details of all its bank accounts from 2008 and ordered freezing of bank accounts of all the directors of its 40 firms besides attaching their properties.Updated: Aug 01, 2018 22:25 IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck a blow for around 42,000 homebuyers who bought flats in projects being developed by the Amrapali Group by ordering immediate attachment of bank accounts and immovable properties of 40 subsidiary companies of the real estate conglomerate for allegedly diverting Rs 2,765 crore of customers’ money to other group companies and delaying delivery of flats.
In its order, a bench of justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit said, “Since there was diversion of funds, it amounts to an offence of criminal breach of trust under the IPC (Indian Penal Code). Besides attachment of properties of the 40 group companies, let the names of charted accountants associated with the companies be placed before us.”
The bench also froze the accounts and immovable properties of individual directors. The group’s flagship Amrapali Infrastructure is also facing a bankruptcy challenge in the National Company Law Tribunal, brought by one of its lenders, Bank of Baroda.
On July 18, the embattled real estate developer told the Supreme Court that it was in talks with state-owned construction company NBCC (India) Ltd to take over and complete the projects. Earlier this week, this newspaper reported Anoop Kumar Mittal, the chairman of NBCC, as saying it was open to doing this.
The bench on Wednesday expressed its displeasure with the chairman and the secretary, ministry of housing and urban affairs , for unilaterally expressing NBCC’s interest. The court has summoned the two and asked them to file affidavits explaining how they expressed NBCC’s interest without the Supreme Court’s permission.
Earlier, the bench came down strongly on the Amrapalli Group for doing little to complete over 16 housing projects that have been delayed by years.
The chairman of the Amrapalli Group, Anil Kumar Sharma, present in the court, was at the receiving end of the court’s anger. The court said efforts were made by the company to override its orders. Sharma was directed by the court to compile the names and addresses of the directors of all the 40 Amrapalli group of companies and give the list to the court.
Justice Mishra remarked: “Our orders are being flouted. I have felt a number of times that serious efforts were made to scuttle our orders. All this is seen in the way Amrapalli group is playing games with the court and the way lawyers are making certain kind of arguments”.
A proposal was put forward by Amrapalli’s counsel that properties of the group in Bairelly, Muzzafarpur and Greater Noida could be sold and Rs 300 crore raised to complete the housing projects. The court had earlier “directed the Amrapalli group to deposit Rs 250 crore before it but that money too hasn’t come in”, said advocate M L Lahoti, who is appearing for the homebuyers.