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Trio of Amrapali directors to spend time in police custody at four-star Noida hotel

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Directors of the real estate giant Amrapali are under the Supreme Court’s scanner for allegedly diverting money invested by homebuyers.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has remanded three directors of the embattled real estate giant Amrapali in police custody hours after they were released by Noida police.

However, the three directors — Anil Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay  Kumar — will not spend their nights in a lock-up, but under “police surveillance” at Park Ascent, a four-star hotel in Sector 62 Noida.

Issuing the order, a bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and D.Y. Chandrachud told the directors to extend their full cooperation to the auditors asked to inspect the 46 companies under the Amrapali banner.

Also read: The rise & fall of Amrapali, from real estate giant to company struggling to pay its dues

Earlier, senior advocate M.L. Lahoty, who represents the petitioning homebuyers, complained that Amrapali had not handed over the relevant documents, adding that the papers submitted were given in gunny bags, making it difficult with no means to segregate them.

The top court had ordered the trio’s arrest Tuesday, after they failed to hand over documents for a court-directed forensic audit of its accounts.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U.U. Lalit had sought an explanation from the advocate representing Amrapali for the non-compliance and warned the developer against playing “hide and seek”.

Police subsequently took custody of Sharma, Priya, and Kumar.

The court was hearing a plea of over 100 homebuyers who sought a stay on the admission of a plea for Amrapali’s insolvency filed by the Bank of Baroda with the Allahabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in September 2017.

What court had told Amrapali

On 12 September, the apex court had directed Amrapali to hand over all the documents to the auditors so they could conduct a forensic audit and find out where the homebuyers’ money was allegedly diverted.

It also allowed Amrapali to hold talks with banks, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), and other financial institutions to raise the required money.

In August, the top court had come down heavily on the real estate giant for alleged diversion of funds. The bench also ordered the attachment of all bank accounts and movable properties of the group’s 46 firms. The bank accounts of the directors were frozen and their personal properties attached.

Auction ahead

During the 12 September hearing, the Supreme Court had appointed an officer from the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) to auction Amrapali’s unencumbered properties — those not subject to any claims from creditors — to raise money for the completion of its projects.

Also read: Amrapali Group directors arrested for failing to follow Supreme Court orders

The court noted that the unsold inventory from three Amrapali properties could fetch Rs 1,590 crore, adding: “Dharmendra Singh Rathore, officer of the DRT, is entrusted with the sale of properties mentioned in the list of commercial properties.”

NBCC takes over

The money raised from the sale of Amrapali’s properties is to be deposited in an escrow account that will be made available to the Centre’s construction arm, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which was handed over the reins to the unfinished projects in August.

On 5 September, the NBCC submitted that it required at least Rs 8,500 crore — as opposed to Amrapali’s estimated Rs 5,220 crore — to complete the construction of 46,575 flats in 15 projects left incomplete by the real estate giant.

An earlier version of the report erroneously referred to Justice Arun Mishra as Justice A.K. Mishra. The error is regretted.

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