The Supreme Court on Thursday directed statutory authorities Town and Country Planning department, Noida, and Greater Noida to hold a meeting with the new board of management of Unitech to prepare a formulation for the grant of statutory approvals for completion of the stalled projects in the interest of home buyers.
The top court also directed the statutory authorities and the new board of management of Unitech to work out a mechanism for staggered payments for the statutory approvals due to a shortage of funds.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah directed that the meeting be held on the weekend and formulations so prepared be placed before the court on the next date of hearing so that necessary orders could be passed.
It noted that in Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted to the court by the new board of management of Unitech two issues have been broadly flagged which relate to the statutory approvals for carrying out work of construction is required from the local authorities such as the department of town and country planning of Haryana government, Noida and Greater Noida.
It noted that the National Building Code (NBC) came into effect in 2016 and the building plans for several under-construction projects of Unitech were initially prepared and approved in accordance with the erstwhile National Building Code, 2005.
The ATR states that construction of the majority of the under-construction projects especially high rise group housing project and the commercial project was taken up in 2010 and 2015 following the then applicable NBC code and regulations, it noted.
The top court said that the issues which have been flagged are--in cases where construction has been already been completed up to above the foundation level, it has been stated that it may not be feasible to incorporate the changes introduced in NBC, 2016 on the other hand where the construction has to be undertaken from the level of the foundation itself, it would be feasible to prepare the building plan conforming to the latest codes and regulations.
It added that the local and statutory authorities would demand payment for the grant of statutory approval and the management does not have funds available for making these payments upfront hence it is being submitted that the statutory authorities may be directed to accord their approval or renewal without insisting on upfront payment.
However, the payment of the dues can be made in a staggered manner once construction commences and realisations are made to the projects concerned, it said.
The bench said that concerning the first issue, the court has suggested to the counsels to hold a joint meeting between advocate Ravindra Kumar, appearing for Noida and Greater Noida, advocate Anil Grover for the Town and country planning department of the Haryana government, and Additional Solicitor General N Venkatraman so that an agreed formulation can be presented before the court in a manner which is consistent with the provisions NBC-2016.
It said that counsels have agreed to meet by the end of the week and submit the formulations by the next dates of listing.
The bench said that concerning the staggered payments of the dues to the statutory authorities, it is necessary for all the authorities to comprehend that at present the government-appointed board of management of Unitech may not have the necessary fund to pay the dues for the grant of approvals and renewals upfront.
Allowing the land to remain unused and undeveloped will not subserve the interest of the statutory authorities as well as resulting in a situation where the home buyers will not be able to secure their flats, the bench said.
It said that once the construction commences, it is anticipated by the board of management that the realisation of bills will take place from which dues can be paid over in a staggered manner.
Cooperation in this regard with the statutory authorities would facilitate the completion of the project in the interest of the home buyers while at the same time facilitate the realisation of the dues of the statutory authorities, the bench added.
The bench said that the payment of dues of the statutory authorities is also dependent upon the construction taking place and it is from the realisation of the projects that the dues can be paid.
On both the above aspects we deem it appropriate to request all the counsel to put their thoughts together and submit a formulation which should protect the interest of all the concerned including the home buyers in a fair and balanced manner, it added and posted the matter for further hearing on May 18.
Earlier, the top court had also appointed former Supreme Court Judge AM Sapre to look into the policy and finalization of standard operating procedure for monetization of project land assets and non-project land assets of Unitech.
The ED had recently filed a fresh charge sheet before a court here in connection with its money laundering probe against realty group Unitech, its ex-promoter brothers Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, and others.
The ED had made a startling claim in November last year that it had unearthed a secret underground office here which was being operated by erstwhile Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons Sanjay and Ajay when on parole or bail.
Both Sanjay and Ajay, in jail since August 2017, are accused of allegedly siphoning off home buyers' money.
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