Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd, a firm that manages leading cricketers including former Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, told the Supreme Court on Monday that it has paid the cricketer Rs 37 crore for endorsing the brand of now defunct Amrapali Group.
It said Dhoni endorsed several brands including Amrapali Group and all the payments made were authentic and as per the contract.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit asked homebuyers in the group's project to file their response to the application moved by the sports management company.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd (RSMPL), said that all the payments made to Dhoni were authentic and genuine, as per the contract.
"I am a sports management company working with various cricketers. My client (M S Dhoni) endorsed various clients including Amrapali Group. I was paid Rs 38 crore and out of which I paid Rs 37 crore to Dhoni, which was as per the contract. I have filed a fresh application in this regard," Rohatgi said.
Advocate M L Lahoty, appearing for the homebuyers, said that a direction needs to be passed by the court to recover Rs 42.22 crore paid by Amrapali Group to Dhoni for diverting their money.
The bench asked Lahoty to file response to the application moved by RSMPL and listed the matter for February 17.
In its verdict on July 23 last year, the top court, while accepting a report of forensic auditors, had recorded a finding that Amrapali Group had entered into "sham agreements" with RSMPL, to "illegally divert" homebuyers money.
The forensic audit report accepted by the top court said that Amrapali Sapphire Developers Pvt Ltd had paid Rs 6.52 crore, out of the total amount of Rs 42.22 crore, to RSMPL during 2009-2015.
Several agreements were entered into by Amrapali Group with RSMPL, including one of November 22, 2009, under which Dhoni would make himself available to the chairman for three days along with one representative of RSMPL, it had said.
"There are no documents held on record for compliance of this condition," forensic auditors Ravi Bhatia and Pawan Kumar Aggarwal had said in their report.
"This clearly shows that these agreements have just been made for payment of amounts to RSMPL are sham agreements and made just for making payments to RSMPL," the report said.
"We feel that home buyers' money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to RSMPL and should be recovered from them as the said agreement in our opinion does not stand the test of Law," the forensic auditors said in their finding.
The report said that Amrapali Saphire paid Rs 6.52 crore on account of agreements executed by Amrapali CMD Anil Kumar Sharma with RSMPL.
"There is no resolution on record authorising Anil Kumar Sharma, CMD to enter into an agreement on behalf of all Amrapali group of Companies," the auditors had said.
The report also dealt with an agreement for sponsorship dated March 20, 2015, under which Amrapali Group of Companies got the right to advertise as Logo Space at various places in the IPL 2015 for Chennai Super Kings.
"It is observed that this agreement is on plain paper and executed only between Amrapali and Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and there are no signatories on behalf of Chennai Super Kings to this agreement. No resolution in favour of Arun Pandey, signatory of Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited, is attached with the said agreement," the auditors had said.
Rhiti Group, in a statement had then said,"With utmost respect to the orders of Supreme Court, we would only like to clarify that the observation mentioned in a forensic report are bereft of proper information or relevant documents. The company has been in possession of all information and relevant documents that can establish the clean image and that the observations made in the said report are incorrect."
Earlier, the apex court had cracked its whip on errant builders for breaching the trust reposed by home buyers and ordered cancellation of the registration of the Amrapali Group under real estate law RERA, and ousted it from prime properties in the NCR by nixing the land leases.
It had directed the state-run NBCC to complete the stalled projects of the Amrapali Group, whose directors Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar are behind bars on the top court's order.
It directed the Centre and states to ensure that real estate projects are completed in a time-bound manner as contemplated in RERA and home buyers are not defrauded, and ordered the Noida and Greater Noida authorities to give completion certificate to the homebuyers of Amrapali group who are already residing in various projects.