The Supreme Court on Tuesday cancelled the registration of the Amrapali group and appointed the state-run National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to complete all its pending projects, bringing great relief to thousands of home buyers who had invested their money with it.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit also cancelled the leases of Amrapali’s properties granted by the Noida and Greater Noida authorities and directed the Enforcement Directorate to investigate alleged money laundering by CMD Anil Sharma and other directors and senior officials of the group.
The bench appointed senior advocate R Venkataramani as the court receiver. All rights of Amrapali properties will be vested with him after the cancellation of lease.
The top court said Venkataramani will have the power to enter into any tri-party agreement for sale of the group’s properties to recover dues.
The bench, which cancelled the group’s registration under the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, said the home buyers’ money was diverted in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.
The court added that the Noida and Greater Noida authorities colluded with the realty group in allowing diversion of the home buyers’ money and not acting in accordance with the law.
It said Noida and Greater Noida have no right to sell the properties of the Amrapali group to recover their dues.
In a relief to over 42,000 hassled home buyers, the court also directed Noida and Greater Noida to give completion certificates to flat buyers already residing in various projects of the group.
It further asked the Centre and the state governments to take appropriate action against the builders who have not delivered the group projects on time.
On May 10, the apex court reserved the verdict in the matter after Noida and Greater Noida authorities said they don’t have the resources and expertise to construct stalled projects of the group.
Both authorities had favoured handing over the properties to a reputed builder under the supervision of a high powered committee.
The authorities expressed their inability to take action like cancellation of lease agreements against the group, which regularly defaulted on payments, due to “bulk of home buyers” and “political weight”.
Both the authorities told the apex court that they have outstanding of around Rs 5,000 crore from Amrapali towards the principal amount and interest component, besides the penal interest.
The top court on May 8 said it may give ownership rights of all the 15 prime residential properties of Amrapali to Noida and Greater Noida Authorities as it has failed to fulfil its obligations towards 42,000 home buyers.
The court had asked the Noida authority to explain what action it has taken against the Amrapali group which was a “chronic defaulter” in payment of lease amount.
Officials of the Noida authority said they have seven projects of Amrapali under their jurisdiction. Of an outstanding amount of nearly Rs 2,000 crore, they had received only Rs 505 crore.
A similar stand was taken by the Greater Noida authority, which said the Amrapali group has five projects under its jurisdiction. Of these, four are vacant lands and no construction has taken place.
The Greater Noida authority said Amrapali has an outstanding of around Rs 3,400 crore and has paid only Rs 363 crore till now.
The court appointed forensic auditors — Pawan Aggarwal and Ravinder Bhatia — have found wide scale irregularities in the financial affairs of Amrapali Group and their initial report has suggested that over Rs 3,000 crore of home buyers money.
On February 28, the apex court allowed Delhi Police to arrest Sharma and two directors on a complaint that home-buyers of their various housing projects were cheated and duped of their funds.
The top court, which is seized of several pleas of home-buyers seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in projects of the realty group, also ordered that the personal properties of the CMD and its directors Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar be attached.