“We cannot entertain a defaulter or grant him indulgence under Article 32 of the Constitution. We are not going to interfere with Article 32. You better move the High Court for the relief under Article 226 of Constitution,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the real estate major, said the firm did not have money to pay the flat buyers and if the directions are issued to Telangana state Industrial Infrastructure Corporation to refund the pending amount of over Rs 165 crore, then it would be of great help.
He said if the company moved the High Court, it would consume lot of time and Unitech would not be able to meet the May 8 deadline fixed by apex court. “We cannot collect money for you (Unitech). You have to pay the flat buyers for the delayed possession. It’s our order and we know how to execute our orders,” a bench, which also comprised Justice A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, said. The apex court granted permission to withdraw the petition and clarified that it has not expressed any view on the merit of the case.
On April 24, the apex court had directed Unitech to deposit 14 per cent interest on Rs 16.55 crore invested by 39 home buyers at its project in Gurugram by May 8. It had warned the reality firm that failure to meet the deadline could invite attaching of realtor’s property and refused to grant more time to Unitech Residential Resorts Ltd which had delayed handing over of flats to these home buyers.
The 39 home buyers had booked flats in Unitech’s Vista housing project in Gurugram. They had sought a refund of their principal amount, totalling Rs 16.55 crore with interest, after the developer, which had promised to give the possession by 2012, delayed it. The apex court had on February 20 had directed the developer to deposit 14 per cent interest on Rs 16.55 crore invested by these home buyers and had said that the interest would be calculated from January 1, 2010.
It had asked the real estate major to deposit the amount with the apex court registry. The bench had directed the registry to disburse 90 per cent of this amount to home buyers on pro rata basis, as was done while giving refund of the principal amount. However, it had said that the issue of compensation would be deliberated upon later. The court on January 12 had directed that Rs two crore deposited by Unitech with its registry as principal amount, be distributed among 39 home buyers. The apex court had on August 17 last year 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.
The investors had told the court that they had paid money to the firm on time and the company was scheduled to hand over possession of the flats in 2012 but had not till date. Over two dozen home buyers of Unitech’s housing projects in Noida and Gurugram had approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) after the builder failed to give them possession of the flats as the per schedule. The consumer forum had asked Unitech to refund the money to the home buyers with interest.