The Rs 60-crore penalty imposed by the Supreme Court on Sushil and Gopal Ansal is roughly equivalent to the market value of 15 high-end villas at Ansal API Esencia Sovereign Floors residential project in Gurgaon, an ongoing project that has, in all, about 1,200 residences.
The Supreme Court verdict could open the door for the Ansals to move on their earlier petition seeking the release of the 2,480-square yard Uphaar cinema hall property in the Green Park Extension area, sealed since the blaze on June 13, 1997.
In May 2013, Ansal Theatres & Clubotels, the entity owning the Uphaar theatre, had moved the Supreme Court seeking the release of the property so that it can be “renovated and used”.
At just the current circle rate of 7.74 lakh per square metre in the Green Park location, a category ‘A’ circle, the property is valued at Rs 160 crore. The market rate, however, could be higher.
If the owners were to try and “re-start” the cinema hall, permissions would have to be renewed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation — these would include clearances from the fire department, trade licence, a health trade licence, entertainment and property tax. All inclusive, an MCD official indicated, this “would not cost the owners more than Rs 40,000”.
In response to the Ansals’ petition seeking release of the property, the Supreme Court, on October 11, 2004, had allowed the owners to mortgage the property to financial institutions to raise Rs 3 crore which was to be paid to the victims and kin as compensation. But the court did not allow Ansal Theatres from creating other third-party interests, directing that the building should remain sealed as ordered by a lower court on October 16, 1998 until the criminal trial was completed.
The real estate business empire of the two brothers, held through their two listed companies — Ansal Properties and Infrastructure and Ansal Buildwell — has a nationwide footprint. While Ansal Properties has 19 ongoing projects across five states and claims to have 8,803 acres of land reserves across Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab, Ansal Buildwell has projects in six states.
The two companies clocked an aggregate revenue of Rs 1,234 crore — of which 90 per cent was contributed by Ansal Properties — and a net profit of Rs 29.26 crore for the year ended March 2015.
Sushil Ansal and son Pranav Ansal, who are chairman and vice-chairman respectively of Ansal API, were paid a cumulative remuneration of Rs 4.3 crore in the year ended March 2014 or nearly one-third of the company’s net profit of Rs 13.5 crore in the year ended March 2014. Gopal Ansal, chairman-cum-managing director of Ansal Buildwell, took home Rs 84 lakh in remuneration the same year.