The Supreme Court today held that the process to auction Sahara group’s prime Aamby Valley property in Maharashtra would continue, as the group has failed to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that the group had on April 19 told the court that they would sell a parcel of the Aamby Valley properties and deposit the amount in the account by May 15 since auctioning would not fetch the desired price.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and AK Sikri, was informed by the counsel representing the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court that the group has failed to deposit the money.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Sahara chief Subrata Roy and the group, also told the bench that they have failed to deposit the amount in the refund account. “As far as the auction of the property is concerned, the same shall continue as the contemner has failed to deposit Rs 750 crore as suggested by him earlier,” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on July 12.
During the hearing, the bench sought to know from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who appeared for SEBI, as to what was the total principal amount due which was to be deposited by the Sahara group.
Datar said the total amount was Rs 25,781.23 crore, out of which Rs 14,357 crore principal amount has already been deposited by the group. With interest, the deposited amount would come to around Rs 18,187 crore. He said approximately Rs 6,500 crore was due which was to be paid by the group.
“He (Sahara) was permitted to sell one parcel (of Aamby Valley) and deposit Rs 750 crore. He has failed. The issue is how to realise the money,” the bench observed, adding, “You go ahead with auction of properties which are unencumbered.”
Datar said as per the group, Aamby Valley was worth Rs 1 lakh crore and the remaining amount to be paid by them was around Rs 6,500 crore. The apex court might consider allowing the sale of shares of 4-5 companies, which were holding shares of the property.
The bench, while referring to the holding companies other than Sahara group, said, “they may say that we do not want to sell my land or property. Here, the valuation is of Aamby Valley and not of these companies”.
However, Sahara’s counsel Singh said that valuation of parcels of Aamby Valley was kept in a sealed cover and if it was to be sold, the valuation should be given to them also.
As of today, the group was maintaining the property and they would continue to do so but the valuation should be shared with them, he added.
“Let the auction proceed,” the bench said.
The apex court had on April 19 said if the group failed to sell parcel of Aamby Valley property by May 15 and deposit the amount in the refund account, the Bombay High Court's official liquidator would proceed with the proposed auctioning process to sell them.
The group had earlier said it has already deposited more than Rs 17,000 crore and they deserved a hearing as lot of issues were required to be looked into.
The official liquidator, in its report filed in the top court, had said it has commenced the procedure for auctioning the Aamby Valley property for which bids would be invited from May 21 to 31 and the auction would begin from June 2.
Roy, who has spent almost two years in jail, has been on parole since May 6 last year. The parole was granted the first time to enable him attend the funeral of his mother. It has been extended since then.
Besides Roy, two other directors – Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd. -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.