The Supreme Court on Wednesday witnessed heated exchanges during which it warned ex-Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra’s lawyer not to raise the pitch of his voice and also asked him not to make allegations against the court after he said the top court will ”repent” if he is acquitted of charges of diversion of home buyers money.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said it was not expected of senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is representing Chandra, to put forth arguments like this and submissions that the court will not be able to set the clock back.
As tempers rose over the issue of sharing of a forensic audit report and status reports of investigating agencies, the top court said that natural justice is being followed as under the law documents which would become part of the charge sheet or case diary cannot be shared with the accused.
Justice Chandrachud, who seldom loses his cool, said angrily, “What kind of argument is this that this court will repent its mistake. What kind of language is this? You are making allegations against the court. Is there some sense of responsibility towards the court or not.
”We are bound by law and cannot share the reports which will become part of the case diary. Maybe you are not briefed properly by your clients. We are very much aware of natural justice”.
Justice Shah intervened and asked Singh, “Don’t raise the pitch of your voice too high and don’t raise the pitch of the case. Don’t remind us of the law of land.
”We know our law of land. Our law says, till the investigation is complete nothing can be given to you. It seems you are not aware of what transactions your wife was involved in. Don’t say such things and make allegations against the court. We never expected this from you Mr Vikas Singh”.
The heated exchanges erupted as the court directed suspension of Tihar Jail officials, registration of case against them and a full-fledged probe into their collusion with Unitech’s imprisoned ex-promoters Sanjay and Ajay Chandra, based on Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana’s report filed in a sealed cover.
Vikas Singh said the forensic audit report has claimed that Sanjay Chandra has diverted home buyers money and the Enforcement Directorate(ED) is proceeding on that premise, but he is innocent until proven guilty.
‘My 84-year-old father and wife have been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate without any charge being proven against him. Now they would arrest my children. This is unfair, without giving me a copy of the forensic audit done by M/s Grant Thornton to put my defence, this court has taken over my company”.
“Out of the Rs 2,600 crore transaction, I have collected Rs 1,400 crore from home buyers and have put Rs 1,200 crore from my pocket. We are the second largest real estate company in the country and have delivered over one lakh flats to the home buyers. If tomorrow, I am acquitted of the charge of diversion of funds, will the court be able to set the clock back. This will not be possible and the court will have to repent this,” Singh argued.
Singh also went on to say that he assumed that the “court does not have anything personal against Chandras and I don’t want the court to repent later that no timely action was taken”.
At the outset, when the top court was perusing the reports filed by the ED, Singh said this kind of ex-parte hearing should not go on and he has a constitutional right to be heard.
The bench said it cannot allow the status report to be shared with him as the investigation is still under way and the document may become part of the case diary.
Singh also asked how many real estate companies the court will run as it is already running Amrapali and Unitech, where for every small thing permission is needed.
“They have arrested my father, my wife and now they will arrest my children also. At least let me defend the forensic audit report,” Singh repeated again, adding that great injustice has been done to him and that his company has been taken over by the court on the basis of a report which was not given to him.
Singh said that since the court has been asking the ED that it is not doing anything, now it has arrested my parents and my wife.
The bench said that if it gives the report then it will be against the public interest and it may be used to dispose off the assets abroad.
Singh said the forensic audit report was never given to him and the court is presuming that his client has diverted home buyers money. He also submitted that had the Unitech got the opportunities which are being given to Amrapali and other group home buyers it would have been revived.
He said the ED has been investigating the case since 2018 but claimed the agency has not been able to complete the probe.
”Please give me an opportunity, I will satisfy the court that there was no diversion.” The top court then asked the ED to rapidly complete the investigation in the matter.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the ED and the SFIO, said the problem that is being faced by the probe agency is that the home buyers’ money which has been diverted is blended with other funds and it is taking time to find the trail.
The bench said it is at present not finding any fault with the agency but the ED should now proceed rapidly and in a comprehensive manner in the case.
Divan said there are some developments in the case as some parties were not cooperating and they have been arrested. The investigation is very much in progress and the ED has found Rs 7,638 crore which have been diverted, she said. PTI