Unclaimed Amrapali flats may be resold as Supreme Court says final notice be given to buyers

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The Supreme Court has initiated the process to cancel the bookings of over 9,500 Amrapali project flats, which are unclaimed or booked in the name of fictitious persons or are benami property, to fund stalled projects.

The top court said that it will direct that a 15-day notice be issued to the 9,538 buyers to update their registration and make payments, failing which these units would be considered unsold and auctioned off.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Ajay Rastogi said it will pass an order on the issue after advocate ML Lahoty, appearing for home-buyers, said they have submitted a note earlier that the unsold inventory and flats booked on fictitious names, as identified in a forensic audit, need to be resold to generate funds for pending projects.

The order is yet to be uploaded on the apex court website.

Lahoty’s submission was supported by senior advocate R Venkataramani, the court-appointed receiver (a neutral third-party custodian for property who is granted certain powers by court), who said such owners may be given one last chance.

Agreeing with the submission, the bench said a final notice be sent to such buyers and they be asked to register themselves and clear all the dues as per the payment plan or their property will be considered unsold inventory and bookings cancelled.

Venkataramani told the bench the process may generate enormous funds needed for the construction of pending projects and will also help identify other flats undervalued or booked on bogus names.

He said the documentation work has been completed with Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing SWAMIH Investment Fund I (SWAMIH Fund), sponsored by Centre and managed by SBI CAP. and it will invest Rs 650 crore in six projects of the erstwhile Amrapali Group at Noida and Greater Noida.

The court receiver further said that Rs 10 crore has been released by SBI CAP as token money and remaining installments will also come within a week.

According to the agreement, SBI CAP will infuse funds in Amrapali projects– Silicon City-1, Silicon City-2, Crystal Homes, Centurian Park- Low Rise, O2 Valley and Tropical Garden — where construction of 6,947 units are stalled.

Venkataramani further informed the bench that meetings have been held with banks including Bank of Baroda, UCO Bank and Bank of India which will form a consortium to fund the stalled projects.

“Apart from them, Punjab National Bank and Axis Bank will also support the construction of pending projects. Final discussions will shortly take place as certain assurances given need to be confirmed, post which banks will have no objection to fund the projects,” he said.

Earlier, court-appointed forensic auditors Pawan Agrawala and Ravi Bhatia in their initial report to court submitted that 5,229 unsold flats including those booked by Amrapali for just Rs 1, Rs 11 and Rs 12 per square feet.

More such flats came to the court’s notice subsequently, taking the total number of unclaimed flats to 9,538. The court had asked for the appointment of a valuer to ascertain the true value of these properties.

The top court had on September 1 last year, in a relief to over 45,000 homebuyers of now defunct Amrapali Group, had resolved the issue of interest payable to SBICAP Ventures and cleared the hurdle for funding of six stalled projects covering around 7,000 residential units.

The SBICAP, which manages the government-sponsored stress fund for the real estate sector, had earlier told the top court that it has decided to provide Rs 650 crore for the constriction of six identified stalled projects of Amrapali Group.

The top court had said that the construction will be carried by the state-run National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) under the monitoring of a court-appointed committee.

The apex court in its July 23, 2019 verdict had cracked the whip on errant builders for breaching the trust reposed by homebuyers and ordered the cancellation of the registration of the Amrapali Group under real estate law RERA, and ousted it from prime properties in the NCR by nixing the land leases.

Amrapali Group directors Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar are behind bars on the top court’s order.

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