Refusing to extend the July 15 deadline for payment of a second instalment of Rs 552 crore by the Sahara group, the Supreme Court on Wednesday warned its chief Subrata Roy to face consequences in case the cheque is dishonoured. A bench headed by justice Dipak Mishra said that it was not inclined to extend time for the deposit and asked Sebi to deposit the cheque in the designated account on the scheduled date. In case the cheque wasn’t honoured, the court said that it would begin the process of auction of the group’s luxurious 8,900-acre Aamby Valley City project in Maharashtra. “Why should we give more time and accommodate you? Many roadmaps were proposed. How many times we assemble and hear the case?” the apex court asked, while declining Roy’s request to extend time beyond July 15 for realisation of the cheque. Sahara has already deposited Rs 1,500 crore with the Sebi-Sahara refund account as part of an assurance of payment given by Roy on April 27. The apex court had then accepted Roy’s undertaking to pay Rs 1,500 crore by June 15 while refusing to halt the auction process for sale of its Pune project. Roy had also promised to pay other two instalment of Rs 552 crore and Rs 3,000 crore by July 15 and October 30, respectively. However, he had paid Rs 790.18 crore by June 15 and was granted 10 more days till July 4 for payment of Rs 709.82 crore.
Sahara’s senior counsel Kapil Sibal sought extension of time till August 15 because of the current market conditions. He said the company was facing difficulties in the sale of its properties. “A total of Rs 13,316 crore has been deposited towards due payment so far and the balance of around Rs 9,000 crore is yet to be paid. We are trying our best and it is not our intention to not pay,” Sibal added. Sibal also told the court that the company had sold its London hotel Grosvenor House to GH Equity UK for 575 million pounds to clear its dues.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, also appearing for a Sahara company, requested the court not to sell the Aamby Valley because it was worth more than Rs 34,000 crore. Vinod Sharma, the official liquidator of the Bombay high court, told the court that terms and conditions for the auction of the Pune-based Aamby Valley had been filed, and the court’s approval for the same is sought. He said the Aamby Valley will be auctioned in three lots.
On April 17, the bench had directed the auction of Aamby Valley after Sahara failed to deposit Rs 5,092.64 crore with the market regulator.