New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the sealing of nine premises of real estate group Amrapali in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where documents related to its group companies were kept. The order comes just a day after the apex court sent three directors of the group to police custody.

The court said that only the appointed forensic auditors and their authorized representatives could enter the sealed premises to get the documents for the due diligence process. Amrapali’s directors, who are in police custody, had later approached the court asking to be held in custody in a guest house. However, the court said they would be held at a police station and not in a lock-up.

On 9 October, the top court sent directors Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar to police custody for failing to submit documents relating to accounts of all 46 group companies to the forensic auditors appointed by it.

The Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police had then been directed to seize all documents. The court had, at the same time, asked the real estate group to furnish the documents to auditors within 24 hours.

Lashing out at Amrapali for not cooperating, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit had held the directors to be in “gross violation" of its earlier orders.

On 26 September, the court directed government-owned NBCC (India) Ltd to conduct due diligence of all Amrapali projects to develop its stalled projects. NBCC was expected to float tenders to appoint contractors to complete the unfinished projects.

The court had also ordered Amrapali to submit all documents of properties, including bank accounts and balance sheets of the 46 group companies, before the debt recovery tribunal (DRT) while appointing NBCC to develop the stalled projects.

The amount received from selling properties will be deposited in the apex court’s escrow account and later disbursed to NBCC for completing stalled projects, the court held. NBCC had given a proposal for completion of 15 residential projects of Amrapali having 46,575 flats at an estimated cost of 8,500 crore in six to 36 months.

The real estate group has liabilities of about 3,000 crore to government agencies and owes more than 1,000 crore to about 10 banks. It needs about 3,000 crore to complete its ongoing projects.

On 4 September, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted Bank of Baroda’s insolvency petition against Amrapali’s Silicon City project in Noida and appointed an interim resolution professional to manage the company. Under the order, the tribunal had announced a moratorium prohibiting any fresh proceedings or continuation of any proceedings against Amrapali Silicon City.

A total of 107 homebuyers approached the Supreme Court challenging the NCLT order.

The home buyers have said the moratorium imposed under provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, is violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution.

Money owed to homebuyers should be treated on par with debt owed to creditors specified under the code and should not be subjected to liquidation proceedings of discriminatory nature, the petition stated.

Homebuyers belong to the low- and middle-income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders, financial and operational creditors, it said.

(with PTI inputs)

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