The Supreme Court has stayed the National Company Law Tribunal’s (NCLT’s) order allowing the government to take charge of the management of stressed real estate firm Unitech. The decision, seen as positive to thousands of Unitech homebuyers and depositors, ironically triggered a crash of the company’s share, amid fears that any value left would be drained in the fund mobilisation process for refunds.
The stay order came in the wake of Attorney General K K Venugopal’s admission before the Bench that the government petition to the NCLT was a mistake. The Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, took the apology and statement on record while passing the stay order on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the SC had expressed its unhappiness over the NCLT order, as it came in the way of the steps initiated to recover dues of aggrieved homebuyers.
Reacting to the apex court’s Wednesday ruling, Unitech said: “The SC order will help the company on its path to complete the projects and to increase the pace of delivery and refunds to customers. The order of the NCLT and some other courts and forums were coming in the way to meet the objectives of possession and refunds…. We strongly believe that the current management is better equipped to handle the completion of the 74 projects that are in various stages of construction.”
The stay on government takeover has put the focus back on recovery efforts. For promoter family members — who were seen anxiously discussing the implications with lawyers in the court premises — the wait, however, is not over.
Promoters Sanjay and Ajay Chandra, currently in judicial custody, have been allowed special facilities to negotiate sale of the group’s unencumbered assets to raise Rs 750 crore by the end of December. Their bail hinges on their ability to deposit the sum. Over 4,700 homebuyers have submitted their refund claims through the portal created by the SC, running up dues of over Rs 1,800 crore. Though the next bail hearing is in January, the petitioners can move court earlier if the required funds are mobilised.