The Supreme Court on Monday directed the official liquidator (OL) of the Bombay High Court to make valuation of and also auction the Sahara Group’s luxurious 8,900-acre Aamby Valley City project as the group’s chief Subrata Roy failed to deposit `5,092.6 crore with the Securities and Exchange Board of India to refund its 3.3 crore investors.
It also sought Roy’s personal appearance in the court on April 27, the next date of hearing, to explain his failure to deposit his dues. The Aamby Valley project in the hill station of Lonavala in Maharashtra is Sahara’s flagship project consisting of luxury resorts, man-made lakes and an airport.
The Sahara Group had valued the property at `34,000 crore in January 2012. A bench led by justice Dipak Misra cautioned Roy from playing with its orders, saying non-compliance of its order would invite “the wrath of the law” and ultimately he will be at “his own peril”.
“Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow… We can give enough indulgence. If you can’t pay, go to jail,” the bench said.
The apex court also directed both Sahara and the market regulator to provide all necessary details of the properties to the official liquidator within 48 hours and OL has been asked to report directly to it.
Meanwhile, the top court restrained one Prakash Swamy, an official who had filed an affidavit on behalf of MG Capital Holdings, a US-based real estate company, from leaving the country. He has been asked to deposit Rs 10 crore as costs and also been directed to appear in person on April 27. The government has been told to issue a red corner notice against him.
The American firm had shown willingness to buy Sahara’s stake in the New York-based Plaza Hotel for $550 million and to deposit Rs 750 crore in the Sebi-Sahara refund account to prove its bona fides. However, it had failed to deposit the earnest money in the Sebi-Sahara account, as directed by the apex court.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who appeared for Sahara, said that the sale of its three overseas hotels — two in downtown New York and the plush Grosvenor House in London — will be finalised soon and a substantial amount will be deposited by May 28. He further objected to the sale of the Aamby Valley project saying the two companies hold some shares in the project, a stand that is contrary to its earlier stand that the star project is owned by its 100% subsidiaries.
Sahara in its application earlier this month had sought more time to sell its properties citing “subdued market conditions”.
It had told the court that it has received 163 expressions of interest from 59 prospective buyers for its 30 properties. The prominent prospective buyers include Tata Housing, Godrej Properties, Adani Group, Apollo Hospital Omaxe, Patanjali Ayurved, Eldeco Properties and the Dainik Bhaskar Group, besides public sector company Indian Oil Corporation, which has shown interest in one of its properties.
Roy and two Sahara directors are out on parole since May last year, after spending two years at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Roy and the others have been judicial custody since March 4, 2014, for not complying with the apex court’s August 31, 2012, and December 5, 2012, orders relating to refund over Rs 24,029 crore from raised from 3 crore bond investors by two group firms. The SC has been extending their parole subject to depositing of the amount as fixed by it.