Jaypee Infratech's 30,000 home buyers should brace for long battle; Arun Jaitley's sympathy will be of no use

When politicians offer sympathy as the first step to a solution you know the rest of the way will be truly uphill. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has done just that to the 30,000 people who invested in the Greater Noida area for apartments through Jaypee Infratech projects, the promise now long overdue.

With the company facing insolvency, this huge mass of dejected human beings led by Prabhu Dayal, India’s former consul general in New York, now faces that pillar to post exercise in futility. Sympathy, Mr Jaitley, is very cold comfort and does not produce a brick over one’s head, especially when you have paid for the privilege.

Having expressed solidarity through this sticky sentiment, it is almost as if the government is saying, "Okay, we will show we are in your corner but go fill in the forms. And if you are aggrieved (another trick word that indicates distancing from the problem) seek remedy from the insolvency and bankruptcy court. After that fill in Form C and make sure you have all your papers in order and every single receipt to prove your case. Then get going on a soul destroying paper chase with no end in sight. Since it was a private deal the government really cannot intercede..."

 Jaypee Infratechs 30,000 home buyers should brace for long battle; Arun Jaitleys sympathy will be of no use

Representational image. Reuters

We all know what it means when an insolvency resolution professional (IRP) is appointed to investigate an issue.

Time is no longer of the essence, and once the legal dimension is activated Dayal and his 29,999 beleaguered brethren can go fish for their homes. Speaking to Firstpost, Dayal said that a signature campaign to petition the prime minister was gaining traction and was short by 173 from the required figure of 75,000 signatures. Though he said that even at 50,000, the online petition can be forwarded.

Since these petitions have little legal grounds and are usually sorties that are abortive, one cannot depend on them very much. And there is not going to be much relief through such listings except a sense of misplaced achievement. Online petitions are now fashionable as an option but count for almost nothing.

It is clear now that with the government of Uttar Pradesh saying nothing tangible and the Centre pouring empathy, the 30,000 affected buyers will have to work in unison with IRP Anuj Jain who has been appointed by the Allahabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal. These steps are also a clear signpost that all is lost and that the reams of red tape and legalese will choke the efforts to seek justice.

Jaypee Infratech has been sued by IDBI Bank for defaulting on a Rs 526 crores loan and its assets, whatever they might be, are likely to be harnessed to pay this off. The battle between creditors and the bank will enjoin soon and if it was a tug of war, the bank has the grip and will be the first in the queue, leaving the cupboard, like Mother Hubbard's, bare.

By the time the solution is hammered out, the young will have aged, and the aged will have shuffled off the mortal coil.

What should really be asked is where has the money collected by these builders, and given in good faith, has gone? Is this not a criminal offence to take money and then not deliver. Keeping all the legal gobbledygook aside — because most of the 30,000 affected buyers will not have a clue as to what it means — the fact is no one is saying it straight: how much was taken and where the hell is it?

Now, this huddled mass has to hold the hot little button and prove its bona fides, rushing from one hearing to another like a guilty party rather than an injured one.

It is a safe bet that things will get more complicated and there will be more forms to fill. There will be a lot of quasi-legal advice and a bonanza for lawyers to take up the individual cases but none of this will reassure the ‘aggrieved’ that their homes will be built. There is no money. Why would anyone pick up brick and mortar?

Updated Date: Aug 18, 2017 08:00:09 IST