“Arrest my children also,” said the lawyer representing Sanjay Chandra, former owner of real estate giant, Unitech, in the Supreme Court today, provoking a strong reaction from the two judges hearing the case. “Listen, Mr Singh!” warned Justice DY Chandrachud, repeating himself three times, after taking off his mask, urging the lawyer, Vikas Singh, to change course.
When that did not work, the judge said, “Do not raise your voice. Listen to us.”
Sanjay Chandra was arrested in 2017 along with his brother, Ajay, for allegedly gypping lakhs of people who bought houses that were never built. The Chandras now face charges that range from money laundering to embezzlement. On Monday, Sanjay Chandra’s wife, Preeti, was arrested along with his father, Ramesh Chandra, who is 80.
“You have arrested my father, my wife, arrest my children also. Put us all behind bars,” complained Vikas Singh speaking on behalf of his client.
Vikas Singh said that the court must share documents that apparently indict his client like the forensic audit report prepared by Grant Thornton on Unitech’s finances so that the Chandras can refute the charges. He said they are legally entitled to access this material. “I don’t want your lordships to repent later that you did not take timely action. I am sure the court has nothing personal against the Chandras,” the lawyer said.
“Before you make allegations against the court… what is this language? This is not the way to argue – to say ‘you will repent later’,” Justice Chandrachud countered.
The Chandra brothers were moved five weeks ago from Tihar Jail in Delhi to separate prisons in Mumbai after the Enforcement Directorate said in court that they had colluded with prison officials who enabled them to continue operating their business from within jail. The agency also said that the Chandras had created an “underground” or “secret” office where they stashed information relevant to the investigation against them.
Today, a group of Tihar officials were suspended on the orders of the Supreme Court for illicitly helping the Chandras.
In 2017, the government was allowed to take over the management control of Unitech, a rare intervention which the government said would help those who had paid the company for homes that were never delivered to them.