The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Delhi High Court order which had directed holding of meetings of home buyers with realty firm Unitech and opening of escrow accounts for completion of delayed projects. A bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said the execution proceedings in the cases filed by the home buyers before the NCDRC, which were stayed after the Delhi High Court order, will now continue.
The Delhi High Court had on September 2 granted an opportunity to beleaguered real estate firm to complete its delayed housing projects and hand over possession of flats to the buyers by opening escrow accounts and using the money deposited in it solely for these projects.
The apex court on November 18 had stayed all the meetings of homebuyers of Unitech Ltd for giving their approval or disapproval to a proposed compromise scheme forwarded by the company to enable it to complete pending projects.
The bench had also issued notice to the company, saying “there is suspicion that it is trying to subvert the order of this court”.
It said that people who were successful at the level of the national consumer commission and are before the apex court, should get their money back from the developer.
The Delhi High Court had directed the home buyers across the country to hold meetings for approval or disapproval of proposed scheme of compromise to enable the company to complete the pending projects and hand over the flats.
Justice Sudershan Kumar Misra, who retired on September 6, in his order said four meetings of home buyers should be held on November 20 at Mohali, Punjab, on November 27 at Chennai, on December 4 at Gurgaon and on December 11 at Noida.
The company had told the high court that it would open escrow accounts in which the amounts received from the buyers and sale of lands would be deposited, and the money would be used solely for completing the delayed housing projects.
The court had put in “abeyance” all the proceedings pending before different forums against Unitech Ltd to enable it to fulfil its commitment towards homebuyers by handing over possession of flats, had appointed a court commissioner to monitor the functioning of the escrow account.
It had clarified that cases in which directions had been issued or might be issued in future by the apex court to the company in this regard should stand exempted from the scope of the order.
The apex court had on October 19 directed the company to refund Rs 15 crore to 39 home buyers in its Gurgaon project, saying a property developer must respect the contractual commitment and live up to the terms of the contract.
It had on August 17 directed the embattled real estate firm to deposit Rs 15 crore principal amount by September-end to pay back investors and home buyers who were not given possession of the flats on time.
Investors have told the court that they had paid money to the firm on time and the company was scheduled to hand over the possession of flats in 2012, but has not done so.
Over two dozen home buyers of Unitech’s housing projects in Noida and Gurgaon had approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) after the builder had failed to give them possession of the flats as per schedule.
The consumer forum had asked Unitech to refund the money to the home buyers with interest.
The apex court had earlier asked the company to deposit an interim penalty of Rs 5 crore with the court registry after the firm challenged the order of the consumer forum which had asked the developer to pay Rs 5 crore penalty to three flat buyers in its Burgundy project.
The court had said the penalty deposited with the court will be awarded to the buyers or returned to Unitech,depending on the outcome of the case.