Amrapali Group Committed First Degree Crime By Cheating Home Buyers, Says Supreme Court
Amrapali Group has committed a "first degree crime" by cheating thousands of home buyers and no matter how powerful the people behind this mess they will be booked and prosecuted, the Supreme Court said.
"Fate is written on the wall" for the group and its directors, the top court said while declining to hear their claims of no wrong doing.
The embattled real estate firm "cheated everybody including home buyers, banks and authorities and indulged in cartelization to prevent the Debt Recovery Tribunal from auctioning its unencumbered properties", it said.
“The limit of your fraud touched the sky.”
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit said it cannot believe the justification given by Amrapali for alleged diversion of funds of over Rs 3,500 crore, looking at its dubious conduct.
“You have committed a first degree crime by cheating thousands of home buyers. We should have cancelled the licences of statutory auditors of Amrapali for indulging in fraudulent practise long back and sent them to jail,” the bench said.
"We are saying in open court that there are powerful people behind this mess but no matter how powerful they are, we will book them and prosecute them. We are not going to spare anybody," the bench said.
The hard hitting remarks of the bench came after senior advocates Geeta Luthra and Gaurav Bhatia, appearing for the group, said there was no wrong-doing on their part and there was no diversion of Rs 3,500 crore as claimed by the court appointed forensic auditors.
Luthra said forensic auditors have erred on various aspects in their report like they had claimed that not a single penny was invested by directors of Amrapali but in reality Rs 60 to Rs 70 crore was put in by them.
"We have to believe the forensic auditors and their report looking at your dubious conduct. We believe them. You (Amrapali) have yourself admitted in your earlier affidavit that Rs 2,990 crore of home buyers money was diverted and now you are claiming that there was no diversion. You have made a peon as your director and he purchases shares worth crores of rupees for Amrapali. Is this not correct," the bench said.
Luthra said the group acted in a bona fide manner and in the interest of home buyers but the problems started after the company ran into litigation.
Amrapali Group claimed that they had received Rs 11,057 crore from the home buyers and they have constructed five projects in Indirapuram of Delhi-NCR and gave their possession to home buyers.
"Your (Amrapali Group and its directors) fate is written on the wall. We are not inclined to hear your bona fide claims looking at your dubious conduct," the bench said.
At the outset, the bench also pulled up Bank of Baroda and other lenders, who have given hefty loans to Amrapali Group for failing to monitor and control the diversion and usage of funds by the reality firms.
The day-long hearing remained inconclusive and would continue tomorrow.
Two forensic auditors—Pawan Agrawal and Ravi Bhatia — in their fresh report said yesterday that Amrapali has diverted over Rs 3,500 crore of home buyers money to different projects.
The top court had allowed the I-T department and the EOW to access the report of forensic auditors in their probe but restrained them from summoning them.
Forensic auditors in their fresh supplementary report pointed out that promoters of Amrapali did not invest a single penny in real estate firm and home buyers money was used for the construction of high rise buildings.
They pointed out that there were irregularities in the sale of Amrapali's hotels in Bareilly of Uttar Pradesh and Deoghar of Jharkhand.
Agrawal had pointed out that funds over Rs 400 crore were diverted through three companies Bihariji Highrise Pvt. Ltd., Jotindra Steel and Tubes Ltd. and Mauria Udyog Ltd..
On Feb. 28, the apex court had allowed the Delhi police to arrest Amrapali group CMD Anil 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 Amrapali group, also ordered attachment of personal properties of the CMD and directors—Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar.
The trio, under the detention of Uttar Pradesh police and kept in a hotel at Noida since October 9 last year by the apex court for not complying with its orders, was in for a shock when the court ordered the arrest on a plea by Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police saying that it wanted to quiz them in a separate cheating case.
The court had also appointed a valuer to ascertain the exact value of 5,229 unsold flats including those booked by Amrapali for just Re 1, Rs 11 and Rs 12 and asked the valuer to submit its report.