The Supreme Court Tuesday granted interim bail to Unitech Ltd promoter Sanjay Chandra, who is in jail since August 2017 for allegedly siphoning off home buyers' money, on "humanitarian grounds" as both his parents have tested positive for COVID-19.
A bench, comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, directed that Chandra be released on interim bail for 30 days from the date of his actual release.
"Having heard counsel, we are of the view that a case for the grant of interim bail has been made out on humanitarian grounds since both the parents of the applicant (Chandra) have tested positive for COVID-19 and having regard to their advanced age.
"This order is being passed only on the basis of these facts and circumstances," the bench noted in its order.
The apex court passed the order while hearing an interim application filed by Chandra, who is in judicial custody since August 17, 2017 and sought interim bail on the ground that his parents have tested positive for COVID-19 and are hospitalized.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the applicant, told the bench that Chandra's parents are aged and his father (81) has been shifted in the ICU.
Rohatgi said Chandra's mother (78) is also hospitalized and interim bail should be granted considering the condition of his parents.
"We accordingly direct that the applicant, Sanjay Chandra, shall be released on interim bail for a period of thirty days from the date of his actual release, subject to the following conditions...," the bench said while disposing of the application.
It directed that Chandra's passport be deposited with the trial court and he shall report to the nearest local police station every Sunday.
The bench said Chandra shall furnish bail bond of Rs 1 lakh to the satisfaction of the trial court and surrender immediately on the expiry of 30-day period.
In January last year, the apex court had refused to grant bail to Chandra and his brother and Unitech promoter Ajay, who is also in judicial custody, in the case relating to alleged siphoning off the home-buyers' money.
It had then observed that they have still not complied with its October 30, 2017 order which asked them to deposit Rs 750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017.
The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects' -- 'Wild Flower Country' and 'Anthea Project' -- situated in Gurugram.
On January 20 this year, in a respite to over 12,000 hassled home buyers of Unitech, the top court had allowed the Centre to take total management control of the realty firm and appoint a new board of nominee directors.
The apex court had approved the name of retired Haryana cadre IAS officer Yudvir Singh Malik as chairman and managing director (CMD) of the new board and directed that existing board of directors of the company would stand superseded.
In 2018, the top court had directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in M/s Grant Thornton India.
The forensic auditors had submitted their report which said that Unitech Ltd received around Rs 14,270 crore from 29,800 homebuyers mostly between 2006-2014 and around Rs 1,805 crore from six financial institutions for the construction of 74 projects.
The audit revealed that around Rs 5,063 crore of home buyers' money and around Rs 763 crore of fund received from financial institutions were not utilised by the company and high value investments were made off-shore tax-haven countries between 2007-2010.