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SC appoints DRT officer to sell Amrapali properties

The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) officer to start the process of selling the unencumbered commercial properties of the real estate major Amrapali Group.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U.U. Lalit appointed the DRT officer for selling of Amrapali's properties and also asked the Directors of the real estate to be present before the DRT along with necessary documents on September 25.

"Dharmendra Singh Rathore, officer of the DRT, is entrusted with the sale of properties mentioned in the list of commercial properties," said the court.

The bench also appointed public undertaking unit National Buildings Construction Corporation India Ltd (NBCC) to complete unfinished residential projects of Amrapali.

It also asked NBCC to find out whether a consortium of banks is ready to finance the projects of Amrapali group which are not sold.

It also granted liberty to Amrapali to hold talks with banks and other financial institutions for financing the construction of its stalled projects.

The court ordered opening of escrow account in the top court in which the amount received after the sale of properties would be deposited and later disbursed to the NBCC to start construction of the pending projects of Amrapali in Group A and B Categories.

The top court also directed that the documents and details including bank accounts, balance sheets of all 46 companies of the firm since 2008 should be given to the forensic auditors.

"Once we put the projects in your basket, you can't shrug off the responsibility of completing them. We will bind you with it," said the bench.

The court also questioned the Amrapali Group as to why it had not filed Income Tax returns since 2015 and what its in-house auditors were doing on non-filing of returns.

The advocate appearing for Amrapali told the court that due to the litigations, the IT returns were not filed.

"They have not filed income tax returns. We want to know each and every fact as to where the money has gone, what has been done with the money, but you (Amrapali) have kept everything in a fluid state", the apex court said.

It also directed Amrapali Group CMD Anil Sharma to withdraw his affidavit filed giving details of assets and asked why the properties worth Rs 847.88 crore has come to Rs 67 crore in four years.

The counsel appearing for the home buyers had earlier brought to court's notice that Sharma declared his assets worth Rs 67 crore in the top court as against Rs 847 crore in his affidavit filed during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when he had unsuccessfully contested as a JD(U) candidate from Bihar's Jehanabad constituency.

"We are working hard so that people who have invested their money get their homes, but we are not sure that you (Amrapali) will permit us to do so. Your conduct is very unfair," the bench said.

Initially, the bench said the home buyers may be directed to pay their current dues to generate funds for NBCC to complete the stalled projects of Group A and B categories.

But home buyers' lawyer objected to this saying they can't be burdened and the court has been saying in every hearing that the flat buyers will not be asked to pay any money at present.

On September 6, the apex court had identified 16 properties of the Amrapali Group for auctioning, preferably by the NBCC, to give it an initial corpus to start work on the stalled projects.

The bench had also ordered a forensic audit of the companies and its promoters to gauge the extent of financial wrongdoing.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home buyers.

--IANS

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