The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the official liquidator (OL) of the Bombay High Court to carry out the auction of the Sahara Group’s luxurious Aamby Valley project near Pune. It also designated the registrar general of the HC as its Supreme Court appointee, who “shall remain personally present to oversee the physical auction at the auction venue in Mumbai”. Rejecting the plea for grant of two months to pay balance amount of `966 crore till November 11, the special bench led by CJI Dipak Misra said the court is “of the convinced opinion” that grant of further time to Sahara and entertaining post-dated cheques “would tantamount to travesty of justice and extending unwarranted sympathy to a person who is indubitably an abuser of the process of law. He, who thinks or for that matter harbours the notion that he can play with law, is under wrong impression”.
“The grant of time, without any steps taken by the court, would tantamount to giving indulgence. Indulgence has the propensity to give rise to procrastination which is the murderer of justice,” it noted in its order. The court flayed Sahara chairman Subrata Roy for testing patience of the court and criticised him for making “hyperbolic arguments and rhetoric statements”.
The order came after senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sahara, urged that tremendous efforts have been made by Roy to comply with the SC order The court had in July asked the Sahara Group to deposit Rs 1,500 crore till September 7 to establish its “bona fide.” The senior counsel argued that out of this Rs 1,500 crore, Sahara has so far paid Rs 530 crore and the balance Rs 966 crore will be paid by November 11. He further said Roy had paid the substantial amount of Rs 16,000 crore, and though approximately Rs 8,651 crore is due, that should not be held against him.
Sahara told the court that it has entered into a proposed agreement with Royal Partners Investment Fund, a Mauritius-based company, for an investment of $1.67 billion in the 8,900-acre Sahara flagship project in Maharashtra. Sebi senior counsel Arvind P Datar and counsel Pratap Venugopal, contended that the auction has to proceed and this kind of “drama of procrastination” must stop. Even Shekhar Naphade, Amicus Curiae appointed in the case, echoed the Sebi’s argument that the conception “enough is enough” should be adopted by the SC. The OL told the court that it has already published the sale notice on August 14 in all the global newspapers.