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2018: Supreme Court came down heavily on real estate honchos

Corporate legal battle involving big business houses like ArcelorMittal and Nmetal on taking over of Essar Steel and tough stand against the automobile industry on emission norms kept the Supreme Court busy in 2018 during which it also gave a body blow to real estate honchos.

Be it real estate majors Unitech Ltd, Jaypee Group and Amrapali or others, all had to bear the brunt of the apex court for taking for ride ordinary citizens whose hard earned money was at stake.

The year gone by saw Unitech promoters — Sanjay and Ajay Chandra — failing to get relief from the top court in coming out of Tihar Jail and Amrapali boss Anil Sharma and two directors being put under police surveillance away from their homes.

The Jaypee Group also had a tough time throughout the year as investors kept up the pressure for possession of their flats which have been delayed in many cases for more than five years.

Amid the legal developments in the real estate sector, a big corporate battle was seen in the top court when steel and mining major ArcelorMittal approached it challenging the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order which had held that Numetal’s Rs 37,000 crore offer in second-round bid for Essar Steel was valid.

The top court granted one more opportunity to ArcelorMittal and Russia’s VTB Bank-promoted Numetal to bid for Essar Steel, provided the two pay off the non-performing assets of their related corporate debtors within two weeks.

Another embattled corporate house, Sahara Group, was also in the news in the top court throughout the year over the issue of depositing money in the SEBI-SAHARA account for which it has been facing tough time for over six years.

The ongoing litigation on air pollution took a new turn in the 2018 when the top court hit hard the automobile industry by ordering that no Bharat Stage-IV vehicle would be sold or registered in India from April 1, 2020.

A tough stand was also taken by the top court to regulate the firecrackers and the industry involved in it got a rude shock before Diwali that only “green crackers” would be allowed to burst across the country for two hours only.

The order was not limited to Diwali but for other festivals and occasions in which people burst crackers.

The year gone by also saw the apex court delivering a significant verdict when it held that courts can scrutinise the rates of interest being charged by banks from farmers in states where debt relief laws are in place to deal with rural indebtedness.

In a judgement having far-reaching consequences, the top court held that foreign lawyers, law firms and companies cannot practice legal profession in India.

In the aviation sector, the apex court disposed of a plea filed by no-frill carrier IndiGo, challenging a Delhi High Court order to shift its operations partially from Terminal-1 (T-1) of the IGI Airport here to Terminal 2.

Dealing with a matter related to pharma sector, the top court dismissed an appeal filed against the Delhi High Court verdict upholding an international arbitral award of Rs 3,500 crore passed in favour of Japanese pharma major Daiichi Sankyo.

The pharma major has alleged that the former promoters of India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd had concealed information about proceedings against them by American food and drug department.

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