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NBCC to take up stalled housing projects of Unitech Ltd, Centre tells SC


Press Trust of India New Delhi
In a ray of hope to over 16,000 harassed homebuyers, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) Ltd was willing to take up the stalled housing projects of the cash-strapped real estate major Unitech Ltd.
A bench, comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah, was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal appearing for the Centre, that state-owned NBCC Ltd was ready to act as project management consultant for the stalled housing projects of Unitech.
The top law officer said the Centre has proposed a high-powered committee, headed by a former High Court judge, to oversee the construction of the stalled projects and the panel can also have a retired technocrat who would assist it in its functioning.
The bench then asked lawyer Pawan Shree Agrawal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, to post the proposal of the Centre on the home buyers' portal prepared by him to enable the home buyers to mail their suggestions to him.
The amicus curiae would then collate the suggestions of the home buyers and apprise the court about them on August 9 when the court would pass a formal order and may appoint a committee and ask the NBCC to take up the housing projects, the bench said.
NBCC Ltd said it will not do the construction work itself, but get the work done through other agencies or private players to whom the work would be assigned in a fair and transparent manner.
The top court has also sought names of the persons, including the former High Court judge, from the parties for selecting the members of the panel which has been suggested to be formed to oversee the completion of the housing projects.
The bench also said that it would be taking the help of of the existing panel headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra, which has been authorised to sell the assets of the real estate firm, in the venture to ensure completion of the projects.
Earlier, the apex court had directed the Centre to come up with a proposal for construction of stalled projects of Unitech Ltd within ten days so that the hassled homebuyers are not left in lurch.
It had asked the Centre to suggest the modalities and name of the third-party agency like NBCC Ltd which could construct the pending projects of Unitech Ltd in a time bound manner.
The court had rejected the application of Unitech Ltd in which they sought court's permission to continue with the construction of the pending projects.
On May 9, the apex court, irked over the non-cooperation of Unitech in the forensic audit, had withdrawn all the facilities given to its promoters, Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra who are lodged in Tihar jail for allegedly siphoning off homebuyers' money.
The top court had said the Chandra brothers should be treated like ordinary prisoners as per the prison manual of Tihar jail here where they have been lodged since 2017.
In 2017, the apex court had directed the jail authorities to facilitate the Chandras' meeting with their company officials and lawyers so that they are able to arrange the money for refunding homebuyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.
The court had earlier sought assistance of the attorney general while warning that it could order a CBI probe.
The court had said it would also like to hear from the attorney general on whether the government can take over the management of Unitech Group and its subsidiaries to protect the interest of homebuyers.
The apex court had on January 23 refused to grant bail to the Chandra brothers. It said they had not complied with the October 30, 2017 order which asked them to deposit Rs 750 crore with the court registry by December 31, 2017.
The court had directed the trial court which is seized of the criminal case against the Unitech promoters to proceed expeditiously in the trial.
The Chandras sought bail on the ground that they were complying with the apex court order and had deposited around Rs 481 crore till now.
On December 7, 2018, the apex court has directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in M/s Grant Thornton India.

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First Published: Jul 29 2019 | 7:30 PM IST

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