The three directors of the Amrapali Group, who were detained for recovering account documents of the Group’s 46 companies, will now stay in a hotel under police surveillance till these documents stored in different locations are catalogued.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court directed that the process of cataloguing be completed within 15 days. The two auditors appointed by the court to audit the firm’s accounts —which is facing lawsuits by homebuyers for allegedly failing to deliver flats — will complete their task in 10 weeks.
A bench of Justice U U Lalit and Justice D Y Chandrachud said it did not want the trio to stay at home during the process, and agreed to their counsel’s request that they be allowed to stay at a hotel. However, it said, “during the entirety (of) this exercise, the three directors shall always remain under police surveillance”.
The directors were kept in police custody since Tuesday, for failing to hand over the account books of the companies to the forensic auditors. On Wednesday, they informed the court that the relevant documents were stored in nine properties of the group and that it was not possible to physically hand them over.
They requested the court to seal these premises. The court ordered accordingly. Their counsel informed the court on Thursday that police had released them after sealing was completed. The bench then asked them to appear before the SHO, Sector 57, to be taken to the premises where the cataloguing work had to start. The exercise will be carried out one premises at a time, it added.
During the hearing, the bench again aired its displeasure with the directors for not complying with its order to hand over the account books. It said, “This is just not done. We have been asking for several months. But you are recalcitrant.”
The court further directed the Superintendent of Police, Noida, to ensure that after the cataloguing work during the day, they are taken to the hotel for the night. “They shall not be allowed access to any mobile phone without the authorisation of the police,” it said and added that they will always be under the watchful eyes of the police. However, they can have access to mobile phones and other telecommunication equipment that will help the operation.
In its October 9 order, the court had recorded a preliminary finding that all the Directors of the Group had committed contempt by not handing over the accounts documents, despite repeated orders to do so. Carrying this forward, the bench on Thursday issued formal notices to these directors and listed the matter as a separate case. This will be taken up on November 20.
When it was pointed out that some of the directors had been ordered to be present before the Debt Recovery Tribunal on October 15, the court directed that they need not be personally present before the DRT that day, in view of the cataloguing exercise.