SC ticks off real estate firm, asks it to pay back home buyers

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the promoters of Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, its independent directors and their families not to alienate their properties or face criminal prosecution and contempt of court.

The court, however, granted relief to the group to deposit in instalments a sum of Rs 2,000 crore in order to protect the interest of home buyers.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra declined a plea by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi to grant time till January 15 to deposit part of the sum, as directed by the apex court earlier.

Must pay back

"Home buyers must get their money back. We have nothing against you. These people reached the top at the cost of home buyers. They cannot enjoy life at their cost. We will attach your properties and start criminal prosecution and contempt if you fail to deposit the money," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud told the five promoters and eight independent directors present in the court.

Sibal presented a draft for Rs 275 crore for depositing with the apex court's registry. He pleaded that the group had 50,000 employees and they should not be made to suffer as in the case of Sahara group. Sibal also submitted Jaypee Infratech, a group company, has delivered 1,300 flats to home buyers last month. Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the directors, submitted an affidavit giving details of their properties.

The court was hearing a plea by a Delhi resident, Chitra Sharma, who had booked a flat in Noida with the real estate company of the group. It appointed advocate Pawan Shree Agrawal as amicus curiae and directed him to create a portal for the home buyers to file their grievances.

It gave the company time to deposit Rs 150 crore by December 13 and another Rs 125 crore by the end of December. The court had on September 4 stayed the order of the National Company Law Tribunal, initiating insolvency proceedings against Jaypee Infratech. Posting the matter for further hearing on January 10, the court directed all promoters and directors to be present.

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