The Supreme Court on Monday said it will protect the interest of home buyers of 40 storey twin-towers of Emerald Court project of real estate developer Supertech Ltd, which has been now declared bankrupt by NCLT and directed them to file by April 15 their claims for refund of payments.
Realty firm Supertech Ltd informed the top court that it will be filing an appeal against the order of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) declaring it bankrupt on a plea filed by the Union Bank of India for non-payment of around ₹432 crore worth of dues.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant noted the submissions of senior advocate S Ganesh appearing for ex-management of Supertech and amicus curiae Gaurav Agarwal that there was a total of 711 home buyers of twin towers out of which the company had settled the claim of 652 home buyers.
It noted that 59 home buyers still need to be refunded and the outstanding amount would be around ₹14.96 crore, as per the amicus curiae note.
The top court took on record a note filed by Agarwal which said that NCLT has passed an order on March 25, 2022, by which a corporate insolvency resolution process has been initiated against Supertech Ltd and IRP Hitesh Goel has been appointed.
Agarwal in his note submitted that the bench may consider whether refund payments of the remaining home buyers of the twin towers as per the orders of the top court, should form part of the resolution process or whether the payments should be made by the company from the funds available or funds which would become available which would mean keeping it out of the resolution process.
He said that in case the payments are made part of the resolution process, then would it be a separate category in the resolution plan so that home buyers get the refund with interest from the successful resolution applicant.
Ganesh told the top court had fixed a deadline of March 31 for making total refunds but on March 25, the company was declared insolvent and claims of 59 home buyers could not be settled as there was a delay in the completion of proper documentation work.
The bench bringing an end to the uncertainty voiced by some home buyers assured them saying, “There is our order for a refund. We will protect the interest of those home buyers”.
It ordered, “Homebuyers of the twin towers shall file their claim by April 15 with a copy to the amicus curiae”.
The bench noted the submission of counsel for Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) that a tab has been created in the portal for filing the claims by the home buyers of the twin towers.
It issued notice to IRP and directed that all the claims of home buyers who filed their claims till April 15 shall be collated along with the interest due, computed, and report be filed in the court by April 30.
The bench said that IRP shall also clarify in its report that the funds available in the bank account of the company or which can be reasonably made available in the near future for running operations of the company, would be sufficient to settle the claims.
“The amount of claims of home buyers shall be segregated from other claims of financial creditors”, the bench added and posted the matter for further hearing on May 6.
At the outset, Ganesh said that they don’t want IRP to come in the way as they are endeavouring to settle the claim of home buyers and the court should exercise powers under Article 142 so that there is no interference.
The bench said that ex-management of Supertech should also file a status report concerning those 59 home buyers.
On February 28, the NOIDA authority had informed the top court that the work for the demolition of Supertech’s twin 40-storey towers in its Emerald Court project, which have been held illegal for a violation of norms, has commenced and will be razed completely by May 22.
The authority in the status report said that after the demolition of these massive structures, the entire debris will be cleared of the site by August 22.
The top court had asked all the stakeholders including NOIDA and Supertech Ltd to strictly abide by the timeline given in the status report and listed the matter for further hearing on May 17.
On August 31 last year, the top court had ordered the demolition of Supertech Ltd’s twin 40-storey towers under construction within three months for violation of building norms in “collusion” with NOIDA officials, holding that illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law.
The NOIDA authority had received a rap on its knuckles as the top court pointed out multiple incidents of collusion of its officials with Supertech Ltd in the Emerald Court project and violations of norms by the realty major in the construction of the twin towers.
The top court had directed that the entire amount of home buyers be refunded with 12 percent interest from the time of the booking and the RWA of Emerald Court project be paid ₹2 crore for the harassment caused due to the construction of the twin towers, which would have blocked sunlight and fresh air to the existing residents of the housing project adjoining the national capital.