Apex court has directed official liquidator to complete auction in 8 weeks
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the official receiver of the Bombay High Court to take over the management and control of Sahara’s luxury township Aamby Valley near Pune for smooth conduct of its auction process. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the official liquidator (OL), who has been entrusted with the task of conducting the auction, of the Bombay High Court to take the help of the receiver and ensure that the Aamby Valley properties are auctioned. “We want the property to be auctioned. We appoint the receiver of the Bombay High Court till auctioning is complete. The duty of the receiver is to see the valuation is not reduced and the property is maintained,” it said, amid apprehensions of encroachment raised by Sebi. It also directed the OL to take instructions from the company judge or the Bombay High Court, which will take all such steps necessary for the orderly conduct of the auction.
While releasing Rs 84 lakh for advertisement of the fresh auction, it directed the OL to complete the auction in eight weeks and posted the matter for further hearing in February. On April 17, the bench directed the auction of Aamby Valley after Sahara had failed to deposit Rs 5,092.64 crore with the market regulator. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Sahara, opposed appointment of the receiver, saying there was no such move when the auction was ordered. Sebi told the court that the Sahara group is obstructing the auction process and there are “encroachments” in the property. Meanwhile, New York-based real estate fund United Capital has showed interest in buying the Sahara group’s stake in New York-based luxury hotels Plaza and Dream Downtown. Its lawyer said the fund was ready to pay $793 million for the assets. However, Rohatgi said the group was not inclined as the Aamby valley auction would take care of its liability.
The apex court had on October 12 taken strong exception to the alleged obstruction by the Sahara Group in the Aamby Valley auctioning process and warned that anybody creating any impediment would be liable for contempt and “sent to jail”. It had directed the Maharashtra police to hand over the possession of the luxurious Aamby Valley project within 48 hours to the official liquidator. Sahara chief Subrata Roy and its two directors are out on parole since May last year, after spending two years in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Roy and others are in 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 three crore bond investors by two group firms.