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Supertech MD faces 3-year jail term for failure to refund home buyer’s money

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The (NCDRC) has issued an arrest warrant against Supertech’s MD, over the company’s failure to comply with its April 2019 order in a money refund case

In a decision that could send across a strong message to defaulting real estate developers, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has issued an arrest warrant against the managing director of embattled Supertech Group. The order by the apex consumer panel came, in a case where the company failed to deliver its housing project in the Yamuna Expressway area of the NCR.

“In view of the non-compliance of the direction and dishonoring his own commitment, we sentence the MD of the company, as per powers under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, for three years’ imprisonment and issue warrants of arrest,” the consumer panel said.

The commission had, in April 2021, issued bailable warrants against Arora in the case but canceled it after Arora assured the panel that the company would give possession of the villa within 60 days.

“We have the highest respect for the commission. We will comply with the commission’s order by Thursday. Supertech will initiate the process on Wednesday (September 22, 2021) and will complete compliance by depositing the money by Thursday (September 23, 2021),” Arora told the media after the NCDRC order on September 20, 2021.

Supertech quickly moved the Delhi High Court after the September 20 order of the NCDRC but the HC refused to interfere or stay the order. Under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, consumer courts can order the arrest and impose a jail term of up to three years, over non-compliance with its orders.

“This is a ‘eureka’ moment, not only for my client but also for all other similarly situated home buyers, who are made to run from pillar to post, first for their houses and then for refunds. The commission has sent out a very strong message to all builders that you cannot bail out after making promises,” said Vrinda Kapoor, the advocate representing the Batras.

The case

The father-daughter duo, Brigadier Kanwal Batra (retired), and his daughter Aakriti Batra had jointly purchased a villa for Rs 1.3 crores at Supertech’s Upcountry project in Sector 17A of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) area in 2013. In the builder-buyer agreement, the company promised possession of the project by August 2014. When Supertech failed to deliver the unit, because of legal issues pertaining to the project, the Batras moved the consumer court, which, in 2019, ordered that the buyer be refunded their money along with 10% interest. The builder failed to comply with the NCDRC order too. Arora also failed to appear before the panel despite the NCDRC orders that he remain present at every hearing till the refund amount was returned.

Supertech case: ED starts probe into Noida twin tower irregularities

This is the third builder in the NCR that is now being probed by the enforcement agency under the PMLA

September 6, 2021: Nearly a week after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered that the illegally-built twin towers at a Noida housing project by real estate company Supertech be razed, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated a probe against the embattled builder and its chairman RK Arora. The move by the ED comes at a time when the Uttar Pradesh government has also decided to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter. The four-member SIT will investigate the irregularities involved in the construction of the twin towers.

The ED is also expected to issue a look-out circular against Arora, barring him from leaving the country. The ED probe will also look into officials from the Noida Authority under whose watch the company received all the permissions to construct the illegal towers at its Emerald Court project.

The names of the twin towers, which have 915 flats and shops and are spread over an area of six lakh sq ft, are Apex and Cyane.

The enforcement agency is already investigating builder companies like Amrapali and Unitech under various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Recall here that the SC, on August 31, 2021, ordered the demolition of the twin towers, upholding an earlier order of the Allahabad High Court.

Supertech has, however, decided to challenge the SC order.

“While we respect the Hon’ble Supreme Court order, we have decided to re-present the matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a review application, as the towers were constructed as per the approval of the competent authority conforming to the building bye-laws. Supertech is a financially stable and strong group. Work is going on at all our project sites, as scheduled. We would like to reassure all our customers, bankers, vendors and other stakeholders that we will deliver all our projects in the scheduled time frame,” Supertech chairman RK Arora said.

Meanwhile, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has also ordered Supertech managing director Mohit Arora to be present in each hearing of an ongoing case, where the builder failed to deliver homes to joint buyers of a villa in Sector 17A of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Area despite a long delay.

Supertech case: SC orders Noida Emerald Court twin towers to be razed

The SC order is an approbation of a verdict of 2014 by the Allahabad High Court

September 1, 2021: In a major setback to real estate developer Supertech, the Supreme Court (SC), on August 31, 2021, said the twin towers built by the company in its Supertech Emerald Court in Noida be razed in a matter of two months, since they have been built in violation of the rules. The top court also specified that Supertech will bear the cost of the demolition of the twin towers, which house nearly 1,000 flats.

“All flat owners in the twin towers in Noida to be reimbursed, along with 12% interest and the residents welfare association be paid Rs 2 crores for the harassment caused due to the construction of the twin towers,” the Supreme Court said.

The twin towers at the Emerald Court Project of Supertech, together have 915 apartments and 21 shops and are named Apex and Cyane.

The verdict by the SC is an approbation of an earlier order of the Allahabad High Court, which had, on April 11, 2014, ordered the twin towers to be demolished within four months and that the residents be duly refunded. The HC order came on a bunch of pleas filed by the Supertech Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association which claimed that the construction of the twin towers was not in the original plan shown to them at the time of booking and that the builder encroached upon the green common area of the housing society. The petitions also claimed that the 40-story construction blocked their view, fresh air, and sunlight.

In its order, the HC said that the twin towers stood ‘too close to each other’, as against the minimum distance of 16 metres required under the Noida Building Regulations, 2010. It also pointed out that Supertech did not take home buyers into confidence, while going ahead with the construction of the twin towers, as mandated by the Uttar Pradesh Apartment Owners Act, 2010. The Allahabad HC’s demolition order was challenged by the Noida Authority, as well as Supertech, in the Supreme Court.

While stating that the HC order did not require any interference, the top court also blasted the Noida Authority, saying it was ‘reeking with corruption and had ‘connived with the builder over not providing the sanctioned plan to the home buyers of Supertech’s Emerald Court project’. The SC also reprimanded the Noida Authority over its ‘shocking use of power’, in sanctioning the illegal structures.

While defending itself, Supertech had claimed that there was no illegality involved in the construction of the twin towers and that the Supertech Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association was terrorizing the builder by making unwarranted claims. Supertech’s managing director Mohit Arora also said the builder would file a review petition in the apex court against the demolition order.

Supertech case: Banks cannot auction project without a buyer, state authority approvals says Haryana RERA

The Haryana RERA has restrained PNB Housing Finance from auctioning a Gurgaon-based project by Supertech, to recover dues

September 22, 2020: Banks cannot auction the properties of builders, to recover losses, unless they have taken prior permission from the real estate regulatory authority, the Haryana RERA has ruled. The Haryana RERA order came after non-banking finance company PNB Housing Finance decided to auction a Gurgaon-based project by real estate developer Supertech, to recover dues, and one buyer, Deepak Chawdhary, moved the state body against it.

While stating that banks will require a prior approval from the state authority, apart from permission from two-thirds of buyers, the Haryana RERA also said penal action might be initiated against financial institutions, if they failed to follow the rules. The ruling is based on the premise that the rights of home buyers on a housing project are not second to the rights of a lender and the latter cannot encroach upon the rights of the former, to recover its own losses.

In its order dated September 11, 2020, the state real estate authority said: “The financial institutions/lending banks/creditors have to take prior approvals from the authority at two stages. First, before initiating the auction of real estate projects. Second, at the time of transferring the auctioned property to the new buyer.”

Construction on Supertech’s project, where units were allotted to a total of 950 buyers, was slated to start in May 2015, while the project was to be completed by December 2021. So far, only 26% of the work has been completed at the project site. The bank launched the auction proceedings, based on the unlikelihood of the project being completed within the deadline.

“The bank cannot recover money from projects as it has not been invested in projects. Home buyers’ money has been diverted fraudulently. Thus, fraud cannot be perpetuated against them by selling the flats and depriving them of hard-earned money and savings of their entire life. They cannot be cheated once over again, by sale of the project raised by their funds,” the order read.

“The authority is in no way against the auction of the project by the lender.  Nevertheless, in case PNBHFL intends to proceed with the auction it shall first submit all relevant documents before the authority and undertake that the hard-earned money of the buyers is not jeopardized,” the RERA added.

Supertech crisis: Home buyers refute claims of 200 flats being handed over

People who have bought homes at Supertech’s Romano site in Noida, refuted the builder’s claim that 200 flats were handed over to them, saying that only ‘three or four families were given the keys

January 29, 2020: In a statement on January 25, 2020, embattled real estate developer Supertech had said that it had ‘handed over as many as 200 flats in its Romano project to home buyers’. Supertech Romano Home buyers’ Association, however, said the builders’ claim was ‘untrue’ and the project, which has been delayed by over three years, was ‘far from livable’.

“There are only 150 units in Tower B2 and not 200 as reported and on January 25, keys were given to only 3-4 buyers and not to 200 as reported. Neither the occupancy certificate nor the completion certificate has been obtained for the project or the units offered for possession,” the association’s statement said. The association said the promised infrastructure like a club, a swimming pool, children’s play area and jogging track, were not yet available. It alleged that Supertech had also backed out from its commitment to make pre-EMI payments to subvention buyers.

Confronted with the home buyers’ rejoinder, a Supertech spokesperson, on January 28, 2020, said that keys were handed over to 20 buyers but all flats in Tower B2 were ready and other home buyers have been sent a communication offering possession. “Not everyone came on January 25 but we had invited all buyers of Tower B2 to take possession of their homes,” the spokesperson claimed. The spokesperson said the group had applied for the occupancy certificate for Tower B2 of its project located in Noida’s Sector 118.

Noida Authority issues recovery certificate to Supertech, over non-payment of dues

The Noida Authority has issued a recovery certificate of Rs 293 crores against real estate group Supertech over non-payment of dues, officials said

October 23, 2019: The Noida Authority has slapped a recovery certificate against Supertech, in connection with pending dues for a group housing project, Supertech Cape Town in Sector 74, an official said. “The RC was issued on Tuesday (October 22, 2019) and includes a principal amount of Rs 253 crores and Rs 40 crores interest,” the official said.

Supertech, however, said it would appeal against the RC order. The real estate group claimed that they had stopped work on the project for two years, in compliance with the guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and was assured by the Authority and the government that the interest amount for that period would be waived. “For the last three years, we have been appealing to the government and the Noida Authority for the promised waiver but we have only got assurances. We will appeal against this RC order now,” Supertech chairman RK Arora said.

Supertech promises homes to 14 buyers by December 2019, at the UP RERA meet

Supertech Ltd, at a conciliation meeting of the UP RERA, has said that it will hand over possession of homes to 14 buyers by December 2019

July 29, 2019: Supertech, on July 26, 2019, agreed to hand over the possession of flats to 14 buyers and also bear their EMI or house rent costs till then, according to Uttar Pradesh RERA officials. A mutual agreement was reached in all the 14 cases between the buyers and builder Supertech that were taken up for hearing during the seventh Conciliation Forum of the NCR, held by the Uttar Pradesh Real Estate Regulation Authority (RERA), the officials said.

“Both, the buyers and builder side, were brought to the table and their problems were discussed. All the cases taken up today were related to Supertech and were amicably settled,” RD Paliwal, NCR conciliator, UP RERA, said. “In all the cases, the builder has agreed to hand over the possession of homes to the buyers by December 2019. They have also agreed to bear the expenses for EMIs on home loans, or the rent for accommodation, as maybe the case, till the time and given an option to relocate the buyers concerned in any appropriate project of theirs for the time being,” Paliwal said. He added that the builder has also agreed to pay the compensation amount to the home buyers, over the delay as per the builder-buyer agreement.

4 Supertech officials arrested for flouting pollution norms at site

Real estate group Supertech Ltd has been slapped with a fine of Rs five lakhs and four of its officials have been arrested, for violation of pollution norms, at its project in Sector 74 of Noida

February 22, 2019: Two concrete mixing plants of realty group Supertech were seized in Noida and four of its officials were arrested, on February 21, 2019, for allegedly flouting the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) norms on pollution, the Gautam Buddh Nagar administration said. The realty group was also slapped with a fine of Rs five lakhs by the NGT, for the violations at its project site in Sector 74 area, it said.

“The Supreme Court had clear directions to implement NGT’s guidelines. In pursuance of that, the action was taken against Supertech builders. They had one RMC plant working on a project premises and another just outside its boundary. They were operating illegally and violating the NGT order by production of dust, etc.,” city magistrate Shailendra Kumar Mishra said. Some other contractors were involved in the project, while it should have been their contractors. The no-objection certificates (NOCs) that were issued for some work, were not in the name of Supertech. These are major violations of the law, he said.

“The action was taken on directions of the district magistrate and such cases are reviewed by the administration on a weekly basis, to enforce the orders of the Supreme Court and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB),” he said. The district administration has warned action against anyone found flouting the apex court guidelines and norms set by the CPCB on controlling pollution.

SC directs Supertech to deposit Rs 20 crores in two installments, by November end

The Supreme Court has directed embattled real estate firm Supertech Ltd, to deposit Rs 20 crores in two tranches by November end, to refund money to the home buyers who had opted out of its project in Noida

July 31, 2018: The Supreme Court, on July 30, 2018, directed realty firm Supertech Ltd to deposit Rs seven crores by September 5, 2018, to refund 111 home buyers, who had taken loans from banks and opted out of its building project in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida area. A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra, asked the realtor to deposit the balance amount of Rs 13 crores by November end, to pay back the home buyers in its Emerald Towers project, comprising of two 40-storey residential buildings.

The apex court said as far as 24 home buyers, who are insisting on 14 percent per annum interest are concerned, they are directed to accept the proposal, as per the calculation of the amicus curiae. Advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who has been appointed amicus curiae in the case, told the court that to satisfy the claim of 111 home buyers, an amount of Rs 35 crores was required to be deposited, out of which an amount of Rs 15 crores has already been deposited.

“A lump sum interest of Rs one crore shall be deposited before the registry of this court, within the said period, to compensate the delayed payment to the 111 + 24 buyers. The deposited amount, along with interest, shall be disbursed by the registry on a pro rata basis, with the assistance of Gaurav Agrawal. The registry shall disburse the amount within a period of 10 days hence,” the bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

The court, in August 2017, had asked Supertech to deposit Rs 10 crores, for refunding the principal money to the investors who wanted to opt-out of its Emerald Towers project. The bench was hearing pleas against the Allahabad High Court’s April 11, 2014, verdict, ordering the demolition of the two 40-story twin towers – Apex and Ceyane – in Noida and directing Supertech to refund money to home-buyers with 14 percent interest in three months. The towers have 857 apartments, of which about 600 flats have already been sold.

Source-https://housing.com/news/sc-directs-supertech-deposit-rs-20-crores-two-installments-november-end/

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