SC stays company tribunal order allowing Centre’s takeover of Unitech

RSTV Bureau
File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court has stayed company law tribunal (NCLT) order allowing the Centre to take over the management of embattled realty firm Unitech Limited. The NCLT, on December 8, had suspended all the eight directors of the realty firm over allegations of mismanagement and siphoning of funds and had authorised the Centre to appoint its 10 nominees on the board.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered the statement of Attorney General KK Venugopal that the government should not have moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) when the apex court was seized of the matter.

The top court had on Tuesday asked the Centre why it had not taken the apex court’s permission to move the NCLT for suspension of Unitech’s directors and their substitution by government nominees.

Senior lawyers Mukul Rohatgi and Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the real estate firm and its promoters, had said that the apex court had given time to Unitech chief Sanjay Chandra to negotiate from jail to sell assets to generate Rs 750 crore for refunding money to home buyers but, in the meantime, the Centre has approached the NCLT.

Rohatgi had claimed that the NCLT did not issue notice to the firm and its directors and passed the interim order, which was virtually a final order, and allowed the Centre to take over the firm.

Earlier, the apex court had agreed to hear today the appeal of Unitech Limited challenging the NCLT order allowing the Centre to take over its management.

The NCLT order had come after the Centre moved the panel with a view to protect the interests of nearly 20,000 home buyers.

Unitech alleged that the takeover of the management of the company by the Centre would make it difficult for them to deposit Rs 750 crore as directed by the apex court to safeguard the interests of homebuyers.

Sanjay Chandra, head of the embattled real estate group, was asked on October 30 by the apex court to deposit Rs 750 crore with it by December end for the sake of the homebuyers.

The apex court had on October 30 said Chandra will be granted bail only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December end.

The top court had earlier directed jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers so that he could arrange money to refund homebu0yers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.

It had said if any proceedings were pending against Chandra and the company, those may continue and the final order be passed but no coercive steps be taken to execute those orders.

Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home buyers of Unitech projects’ — ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ – in Gurugram.

(With inputs from PTI)