‘Serious consequences…’: SC on Unitech home buyers being charged for hearing updates

The Supreme Court on Wednesday was shocked to learn that Unitech home buyers were being asked to pay charges regarding updates on the court hearing in the ongoing case.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said: “Nobody can charge anything (regarding updates on court hearings in the Unitech case).”

After going through a note, the bench said it has come to its notice that a certain WhatsApp message has been circulated, where home buyers were asked to pay charges for receiving updates on court hearings in the Unitech case. It noted that advocate Pawan Shree Agarwal, amicus curiae in the matter, contended that he has not issued any such WhatsApp message.

The bench made it crystal clear that nobody is authorised to collect any charges for providing updates on judicial proceedings, and cautioned that if charges were collected, then there will be serious consequences under the law. The bench pointed out that it sent several emails, but they were not charged.

The bench noted that Aneesh Mittal had allegedly circulated this WhatsApp message and shared his picture with Agarwal, who identified him. The bench was informed that Mittal, who is an advocate, assists Agarwal in the matter.

Justice Chandrachud said the court is already paying Rs 2 lakh something, to people engaged to assist the court on the matter, and if 10 per cent of the charges were to be taken into account (collected from home buyers), then it seems Rs 5 crore would have been collected.

The bench said that since the Unitech board appointed by the Centre is in place and former top court judge Justice A.M. Sapre, who is assisting the board of management of Unitech for the purpose of sale and monetisation of the land assets, is there to ensure transparency undertaken by the board, therefore all relevant updates on the Unitech web portal should be managed by the board.

The bench added that any homebuyer can reach the management on the web portal, hence the web portal should be maintained by the Unitech management.

The top court sought Mittal’s presence, since the amicus said no charges demanded by him, saying that it needs clarity on people who have registered to avail the service and the payments made by them so far.

The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing.

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