Over 500 home buyers stormed the gates of the Jaypee Infratech office in sector 128, Noida on 12 August. The buyers sat in protest at the office and threatened to go on a hunger strike until the impasse between the group and the buyers is resolved by the government.
This comes just days after the Allahabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) declared Jaypee Infratech an insolvent company, leaving home buyers who have invested lakhs of rupees in Jaypee properties in the lurch.
The buyers have been given time till 24 August to raise claims related to their investments in the project.
CM Adityanath Assures Situation Will be Reviewed
UP Chief Minister Noida Yogi Adityanath has been informed of the situation after a meeting with Pankaj Singh, Noida MLA, who met Jaypee home buyers earlier.
Meanwhile, Noida Authority CEO Amit Mohan Prasad has responded to the situation:
Hard earned money of home buyers will not be allowed to go down the drain. The Authority will then take over the unsold apartments and property of the builders and auction it to recover the dues.
Asserting that strict action will be taken against the defaulting developers, he said the Noida Authority is working on rescheduling the payment plan, under which builders will be directed to deposit the dues within a specified period. Prasad added that the Authority has written to Uttar Pradesh government seeking approval to take over possession of unsold property of the defaulting builders and recovering dues from its sale.
On the other hand, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in New Delhi that the government cannot take any direct action in the matter.
"It is a matter of concern. But, we cannot take direct action. Buyers have to approach consumer courts for justice," he said.
Double Whammy For Buyers – EMI and Rent
The NCLT’s decision comes as a big blow to home owners, some of whom, have been waiting for possession of their homes for over seven years. Most of them say that they have to now suffer the double whammy of paying EMIs for the home loans that they’ve taken.
One of the people at the protest was 61-year-old SK Suri. He is a former defence personnel and says that he has put all his life’s saving into the Jaypee Group property.
My entire life’s savings, gratuity fund, my son’s 10-year earnings – everything has been put into this. We have also taken a home loan of 74 lakhs. Now we have to pay both EMI and house rent.S.K. Suri to The Quint
Lack of Legal Recourse
Another sexagenarian – also agitated and retired – 60-year-old Madhu Khanna rues the lack of a legal recourse. “Legally, our hands are tied. They’ve diluted the RERA and the NCLT case doesn’t secure any of us,” she says. “The only way therefore is for politicians to intervene. Can they not see that what’s happening to us is wrong?” she added
Legally, for the buyers, there’s the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code on one hand, and on the other, there’s the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) which provides safeguards to the contractual relationship between the builder and the allottees. As far as these insolvency proceedings are concerned, the Code has a dominant position.
While the management of the Jaypee Group has been taken over by an insolvency professional under the Code, RERA and the existing consumer protection laws are still available to aggrieved allottees who are awaiting possession in terms of their respective builder-buyer agreements. Jaypee, like other developers, is RERA compliant.
Interestingly, the Code has a legal provision wherein it has an overriding effect with conflicting laws. Similarly, RERA too has similar overriding provisions which, in this case, aim to secure the rights of the aggrieved allottees. These are matters of interpretation. Therefore, at this point, the final outcome will be based on the interpretation and orders of the NCLT. An outcome that home buyers are restlessly waiting for.
Investing for the Children
Amidst the older, retired people at the protest, were young couples, kids in tow. Ask 10-year-old Krishna Nagar why he’s at the protest and pat comes the reply – “I’m here to take my home back and to join my parents on the hunger strike,” he says holding a tricolour.
“I wanted to bring him here so that he knows what we are going through. The higher powers should also know that the money we’ve lost affects not just us. But the children and the future generation too,” said his father Bhupendra Nagar.
Taking time out to feed her 3-year-old, Kiaan, amid the protest, Charu Singhal says she’s saving every penny so that she can make an investment before he grows up. “Now we are on the streets. There’s no roof over our heads,” she says, adding, “we saved money in bits to secure his future”.
Buyers have been waiting between four to seven years to gain possession of the homes they had invested in. With the NCLT’s decision, there is now an impasse between the buyers and the Jaypee group and they seem to be getting no close to a solution.
(With inputs from PTI)
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