No bail for Unitech's Sanjay Chandra sans Rs1,000 cr deposit: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday refused bail to Sanjay Chandra of Unitech unless he proves his bona fides by depositing at least Rs1,000 crore which could be used to refund home buyers.

A total of 4,688 home buyers are claiming a refund of Rs1,865 crore from Unitech in various projects undertaken by the real estate company.

Appearing for Chandra, former solicitor general Ranjit Kumar requested a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to release him for four weeks to arrange for the money and also for construction of flats. Unitech has deposited a total of Rs20 crore so far, as directed by the court in earlier orders.

''Unless he is allowed to come out of jail, the recovery becomes difficult. Being inside jail will not help the refund process. Allow him to come out for four weeks and the court may appoint a committee of lawyers to monitor the recovery process,'' he argued. He said Chandra cannot raise the money required both for refunds and completing the ongoing projects without coming out.

However, the Bench rejected the bail plea, asking Chandra to first deposit a substantial amount of around Rs 1,000 crore first. It also suggested that the partially complete flats of the real estate firm spread over 64 projects across the country be auctioned.

Amicus curiae Pawan Shree Agrawal told the court the figures were based on entries submitted by home buyers on the website created to maintain accounts of Unitech's different projects, its home buyers and the extent of refunds granted to each of them. Not all buyers had submitted responses to the option they would prefer - refund or possession - as they might not be aware, Agrawal added.

The court also indicated that it may consider auctioning properties through a court-appointed receiver in the future.

Unitech owes a total of over Rs7,800 crore to 16,300 home buyers in 61 projects.

Chief Justice Misra had directed in September that home buyers who had purchased flats in the 61 projects would have to specify whether they wished to seek possession of flats or a refund of their money (See: No bail for Unitech's Chandra brothers; SC creates portal).

Sanjay and his brother Ajay Chandra along with others are embroiled in a case of alleged forgery lodged by buyers of its Gurugram-based housing project.

Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay were arrested in April on a complaint filed by home buyers of the Unitech's Gurugram-based Anthea Floors Wildflower Country project (See: Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra arrested for duping customers).

Five buyers of the Unitech's Anthea Floors Wildflower Country project including Delhi residents led by Arjun Bedi and others had filed a complaint for registration of a First Information Report against the company in 2015.

Later, 90 more complaints were received against the firm for the same project which were clubbed with the FIR. The buyers had alleged that Unitech did not return the money to them when they sought refund of their amount for delay in handing over the possession of their flats in the company's housing project in Gurugram. They had also accused the builder of duping several people.

On 15 September, the court had denied interim bail to both Sanjay and Ajay Chandra, and asked for a detailed list of refunds paid by the firm to home buyers.

Additionally, the court had asked amicus curiae Agrawal to maintain accounts of Unitech's various projects, home buyers and the extent of refund granted to each of them through a designated website.

Unitech has not submitted the complete details to date, because of which Sanjay Chandra has been denied interim bail on numerous occasions.

He had moved the apex court against the 11 August order of the Delhi high court refusing to grant him interim bail.

On 1 April, the court had sent both the accused to police custody after the prosecution said their custodial interrogation was required to unravel the alleged money trail, beneficiaries of transactions and recovery of project-related documents and other evidence.

The matter will be heard next on 30 October.