The Rape of the Home-buyer

Contributed by another JP homebuyer…….

When I look back into the JIL saga, a few hard truths become obvious. The JAL-JIL marriage of convenience aside, the entire operation reeks of a mega-scam. If Jaypee ever had any intentions of honoring its commitments, it would not have conveniently caved in to the insolvency plea by IDBI. Having collected 90% of the costs of the projects, which included his profits, there is no reason why the projects are not 90% complete. Why JIL has accumulated a whopping debt from the bank if it had collected so much money from the buyers for building their homes will remain a mystery to most of us. Any which way you look at it, one thing is crystal clear – Jaypee has intentionally cheated its clients out of their lives’ savings. If it misspent the money on projects we had not paid for, it does tantamount to willful subterfuge, regardless of RERA coming into force  after Jaypee had launched its proverbial Rome. Frankly, if applicability of provisions of RERA to Jaypee is disputable, so are the provisions of the insolvency law because both became in-actable well after the crime had been committed. How come the home buyers can’t get relief under RERA but they can potentially lose large sums of money because of the insolvency law? Justice, many say, must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Where is the justice here when the life savings of tens of thousands of people have been squandered away and those responsible are not even sorry about it, forget being held accountable for it. Doctors are held responsible for criminal negligence in botched up cases even when almost always there is no mal-intent on their part.

Why is there a deafening silence from the so called authorities on how the home buyers’ are to be compensated? I mean beyond the platitudes like “home buyers’ interests will be protected”. Why can’t we hear something like “home buyers have nothing to fear, their money will not be lost”. This is the reassurance which all are seeking but alas, to no avail. All we hear is that the all efforts will be made to ensure the continuity of the project. Nothing is being said about the money lost by the people in interests and potential rent even if we presume that some day in the distant future we get our apartments. Do the math yourself – your money would have more than doubled in 7 years if you kept it in the most conservative financial instrument, the Fixed Deposit. Almost double after deducting 30% tax. A logical corollary to this is that Jaypee sat on a large pile of cash all this time, earning interest, since obviously this cash was not used for building our homes. Those among you who are businessmen will probably cringe at my argument, for businessmen do not sit on cash, they make it work, to earn more cash. So I am willing to concede the benefit of doubt to Jaypee, that it used our money for something other than it was intended. Brings me back to my previous contention that this was criminal subterfuge. I don’t care if Jaypee’s business decision went awry. He had no right to gamble with my money. He had plenty of his own to do that. He has not lost any of his personal wealth while the trusting public who fell for his glitzy marketing has lost almost everything. How many of us can afford to take a hit of 1 crore rupees I can’t tell, but I for sure, can’t. It will affect the rest of my life in a way that Jaypee, the IRP or the government cannot even begin to appreciate.

A strange narrative is in the process of being created – that it is in the best interest of all the home buyers that this project somehow be completed. That there will be a further delay but we will all get our homes. That the home buyers should reconcile to making the best out of a desperate situation. Have no doubts my friends, we are going to lose a lot of money, almost the same amount we have already paid to Jaypee. For what we have paid already is no longer there. Jaypee wouldn’t be facing bankruptcy if the money was there. Right? Which means, there is no money to give us any interest on our deposits with Jaypee. Don’t be surprised if in the restructuring process, we are asked to cough up some more to complete the project. Is our best interest really being served? Is justice being served? Expecting us to accept a compromise formula is like asking a rape victim to marry the rapist. To be fair, this is a classic dilemma. The math is not on our side. There is no way insolvency of JIL alone can in any way provide justice to all those who have been cheated. And as far as the rape analogy goes, nothing short of criminal prosecution of those responsible will meet the interest of justice.

Legal professionals and many others are not able to question the validity of a law itself, they are trained to think within the confines of the law. After all, a law once adopted, forms the basic fabric of society around which order is maintained. Common sense or interests of a small group alone cannot and should not determine the constitutionality of a law. But the institutions of law and justice do not operate in a vacuum. They operate in a social context. Our Constitution assures justice for all. The insolvency law per se may have its relevance in a complex, modern world where success of business is important for healthy progress. But the insolvency law as it applies to the Jaypee situation misses the entire social context which law is supposed to serve. Needless to emphasize on the emotional and financial aspects of thousands of shattered dreams built around one indisputable and fundamental truth of Indian society – to have our own homes. If the Interim Professional is not able to come out with a just solution, and the law takes its course, along with JIL our money and dreams would also be liquidated. The law is dispassionate, it has no special place for home buyers as a category. Even if it did, there is not enough money to compensate everybody. Wrap your heads around this fact – our money has been stolen! We have been raped. And from the initial silence of the law and its enforcers, it appears to me that it is the victims, not the rapists, who are facing the heat. Consider this, the law enforcement is not leaving any stone unturned to uncover the financial crimes committed by Lalu Yadav and his family, the quantum of which is peanuts compared to what Jaypee has stolen. The only way justice can be served is by recovering the millions from Jaypee, no matter what it takes. Unless an example is set, home buyers will never be safe in this country.

I am not a sucker for conspiracy theories. Around Jaypee they abound. Before I give in to the temptation, I would like to understand how thousands of crores have gone missing. For the home buyers there is little hope, the best they can manage is a home after further delay, the worst – a fraction of what they have paid Jaypee till now. I for one, have learnt my lesson in economics, the two fundamental properties of money – it has wings and it changes hands – thanks to Jaypee. Shouldn’t there be a lesson for Jaypee too in this saga?


Leave a Reply