Friday, Dec 02, 2022

Amrapali Mess: Two-And-Half-Years After SC Verdict, No Succour For Home-Buyers

Amrapali Mess: Two-And-Half-Years After SC Verdict, No Succour For Home-Buyers

Flat owners accuse SC-appointed Court Receiver of complicating process of reconciliation

Amrapali Group PTI/File Photo

When the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the Amrapali real estate case on July 23, 2019, over 40,000 homebuyers of 16 projects had heaved a big sigh of relief, hoping that their years-long plight would come to an end soon.

However, more than two-and-a-half years after the landmark verdict, nothing much has changed for them. On the contrary, inefficient implementation of the apex court’s order has complicated the relevant issues, leading to mental stress and physical inconvenience to hundreds of homebuyers.

In its 2019 judgment, the SC had removed the company’s promoters and appointed senior lawyer R. Venkataramani to manage the day-to-day affairs of the company.

While the court directed the NBCC to complete the unfinished flats, Venkataramani was supposed to ensure that all dues of the company were recovered from buyers and other stakeholders so that adequate funds could be arranged for the NBCC to start the stalled project.

Besides, Venkataramani was also expected to check the status of every flat owner if he or she is a genuine occupant and doesn’t have any due pending against the company.

Out of 40,000 flats, at least 9,000 are in physical possession of buyers and the Supreme Court had ordered to initiate their registration process in 30 days. 

Homebuyers allege that Venkataramani has failed to do justice to what the apex court had assigned to him as he lacks experience in real estate practices.

“He is an excellent human being and shows a lot of sympathy with the homebuyers but that doesn’t solve problems,” said a home-buyer in Sapphire, a luxury project in Sector-45, Noida.

The Supreme Court delivered its judgment based on a report of forensic auditors whom the court itself had appointed. The auditors’ report, a copy of which is in possession of Venkataramani, has details of dues of each buyer.

He was supposed to send notices to the buyers and recover the money. However, after a lot of deliberations with the buyers, he set out a process.

To check the authenticity of flat papers and dues of buyers, Venkataramani asked the Noida authority to conduct verification of property papers and send the list of verified and genuine flat owners

After the verification process, Noida authority sends the list of genuine flat owners to Venkataramani who further sends it to a team of SC-appointed forensic auditors to ensure if the flat owner has any dues pending against the builder.

Once the forensic auditor clears the names, Venkataramani publishes these on the Court Receiver’s website so that these flat owners can get their flats registered without any hassle.

Following this process, hundreds of homebuyers of various projects of Amrapali got their flat registered. However, they were shocked to see their names in the list of those buyers who are yet to make the balance payment to the Court Receiver.

The list was published on September 9 in a newspaper asking flat owners to mandatorily register their data online with the Court Receiver.

“Homebuyers mentioned as per project-wise list appended below have also NOT paid any amount of their outstanding dues as per Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the notice said.

Amit Tiwari, a home buyer in Amrapali Sapphire, got his flat registered in October 2020 when his name appeared on the Court Receiver’s website after all verification and no-due scrutiny.

“When I saw my name in the list of buyers who have outstanding dues, I was very surprised. I enquired with Aspire (an NBCC company) that published the list and the Court Receiver but didn’t get any concrete response as to why my name appeared,” Tiwari said.

He added, “They said that they would get back to me but haven’t heard anything from them yet. There is no individual notice issued to me for recovery of the dues.”

Tiwari is not alone. There are many buyers who have similar complaints.

“The worst part is that we don’t know what the unpaid amount is and where it has come from. I have no problem paying it but at least give us the details,” said a home buyer of the Silicon City phase I.

Flat owners also complain that no individual notice is being sent to them who have either underpaid amount due to the builder or purchased it at an undervalued price. The flat owners continue to be in dark as far as outstanding dues are concerned.

When Outlook contacted Venkataramani through WhatsApp, he avoided a direct reply. “Why have the flats which have been registered with due diligence after verification by Court Receiver and Noida Authority also been seen in the list published by ASPIRE in national daily?”

 “All these issues have been considered by us. For two years many of these buyers kept quiet and made no effort to reach out and complete their obligations. Now up to 25,000 people have registered on the website. I am to complete the job for all,” he messaged.

He added, “They cannot expect me to work in the physical space in the Amrapali office. Many have taken my work as granted and they think I am a paid employee. I am doing a voluntary free job. With just less than ten staff many issues are getting resolved.”

When asked that many flats in the published list were registered after following due process of verification by Noida Authority and Court Receiver’s office, Venkataramani replied, “I am aware of it. I know what has happened during Noida verification!!”

He added, “We are taking care of those already through with their registration. Every day we are dealing with auditors report in some way or the other. Please do not ask these questions on mobile. Huge work has happened and I do not wish to answer questions in this way without meaning any disrespect to you,”