Subrata Roy, chairman of Sahara Group (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Orders Auction Of Sahara’s Aamby Valley Property

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the auction of Sahara Group’s flagship Aamby Valley property as the Subrata Roy-led company failed to deposit Rs 5,092 crore with the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The apex court directed the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court to conduct the auction. The apex court also ordered Roy to appear personally in court on April 27, saying “enough is enough”, after the Sahara group failed to deposit any amount in an escrow account that is managed by SEBI.

The apex court in its last hearing in March 21, had asked the Sahara Group to deposit Rs 5,092 crore to avoid the auction of its Aamby Valley property. The court had, however, said it would consider extending the deadline to deposit the money if the company manages to deposit a ‘substantial’ portion of this amount by April 7.

The official liquidator will now conduct an independent valuation and then proceed with the auction. The Sahara group has been asked to submit all the details within the next 48 hours.

The Aamby Valley property near Lonavala in Maharashtra is valued at Rs 34,000 crore as on January 4, 2017, according to the Sahara Group, and has already been attached following the top court’s order on February 6, 2017.

During Monday’s hearing, Sahara’s counsel and Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid said the group will get a substantial amount of money through the sale of three hotels by May 24. “We have continued our efforts to pay the money,” he added.

Sahara was expected to raise Rs 5,092 crore from the sale of unencumbered (debt-free) properties, details of which it had submitted to the apex court on February 28. Out of the total number properties submitted, the Supreme Court had allowed the sale of 13.

In this ongoing SEBI-Sahara case, the Supreme Court in April 2012, had ordered two Sahara companies to refund Rs 24,000 crore, along with 15 percent interest, to more than two crore small investors who had invested in their optionally-fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) between 2008 and 2011.

Roy, who set up a multi-million dollar business conglomerate, was sent to jail on March 4, 2014 for failing to pay a sum of Rs 10,000 crore as ordered by the court. The court then said that Roy will not be released from jail until he was able to raise half the amount in cash and the other half in the form of bank securities.

However, on account of Roy’s mother’s demise in May last year, the apex court permitted his release on parole. The interim arrangement has continued since then subject to Sahara’a payment of the court-directed amount.