The Supreme Court on Wednesday orally observed that Unitech Group promoters Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra will be not allowed to come out of jail unless “some money from foreign countries comes back”.
As senior advocate Vikas Singh submitted that Chandras were in jail for the last four years and they should be granted bail now, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said: “You will have to wait until and unless some money from foreign countries comes back.”
Unitech Group’s forensic audit revealed that its promoters diverted thousands of crore amount paid by homebuyers and banks to off-shore tax havens.
As Singh submitted that the Chandra brothers are not fly-by-night operators to seek relief for them, the bench replied: “Your clients know where the money is.”
The interim audit report, providing details of potential diversion of funds, claimed high-value investments were made in off-shore tax-havens, and this was later written off.
According to the report, three subsidiaries of Unitech, between 2007-2010, invested Rs 1,745.81 crore in 10 companies in Cyprus. It further added that Rs 1,406.33 crore or 80 per cent of the total investment value, between 2016-18, was written off, while Rs 339 crore is appearing as equity investments in the books of accounts.
During the hearing, the top court also urged the Noida authority and Unitech group should adopt some flexibility and come up with a practical solution in connection with dues to be paid by the company.
The Noida authority had raised a demand of over Rs 8,000 crore, but the company’s new management, which was appointed by the Centre, argued the amount is in complete disregard of the agreement.
Insisting on a resolution, the bench noted it is important to protect the interests of thousands of homebuyers, who have not received possession of their flats so far.
The Unitech’s new management termed NOIDA and Greater Noida authority demand, which included penalty and interest, as unreasonable. It urged the top court to pass direction to the authorities to only demand principal amount.
At this, the bench told the Noida authority: “You are a public body, and you also need funds. So, give realistic estimates of dues.”
Counsel representing the Authority vehemently argued that the resolution plan was framed behind its back and several calls were made by the authority to the head of the Board of Directors, but there was no response. Unitech contended it had been allotted land by competitive bidding in 2006 in Sectors 96, 97, and 98. It further added that in Sectors 113 and 117 allotted in 2008, NOIDA hasn’t been able to give complete and absolute rights for land allotted, but has been charging interest, penal interest etc.
The hearing in the matter is likely to continue on Thursday.