The Supreme Court today directed the Sahara group to furnish details of all its properties in a sealed cover to ascertain the fact as to whether they are sufficient for paying back the entire amount to the investors.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, however, refused to grant parole to Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who is in jail since March 4, 2014, saying that so far its orders have not been complied with “substantially”.
“We should know about the total assets of the Sahara group. What exactly is the extent of properties, we must know. Currently, 66 properties of the group are scheduled to go on sale which will generate around Rs 6,000 crore.
“This might be enough for securing Roy’s bail but not to refund the entire money to investors. We want the rest of the properties to be brought into focus so you give us a list of properties,” the bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, said.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Sahara, sought release of Roy on the ground of his “deteriorating” health and the fact that market regulator SEBI has already been authorised to sell 66 properties.
“The court should consider granting parole to him or put his client under house arrest. I am in substantial compliance of the orders of this court. SEBI has the property and the machinery. I am required for compliance of order of this court and I am not required for any offence. At this stage please consider all the factors and grant me parole. My client’s health has been deteriorating and he may not be able to survive another summer in jail,” Dhawan said.
To this, the bench said,”we don’t see substantial compliance unless the money is refunded to the investors. It does not give us pleasure to keep somebody in jail. See, there has to be change in circumstances and there has to be a subsantial compliance of our order.”
When the bench enquired about the total assets of Sahara in India and abroad, Dhawan sought two weeks time to seek instructions and produce the list of properties in a sealed cover to the court.
The matter is listed for hearing on May 11.
At the outset, senior advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for SEBI, informed the court that the market regulator, in consultation with Justice B N Agrawal, has engaged services of SBI Capital Markets and HDFC Realty to sell properties of the Sahara Group.
He said the selling process of 66 properties will be completed in four months time and the first phase of the sale process would commence next week. Datar told the court that HDFC Realty and SBI Capital would help the market regulator in valuation as well as the sale process for the selected properties through e-auction. He also filed a status report giving details of terms and conditions fixed for auctioning 66 properties of the group.
Datar said once the auction process starts we would know about the objections if any in the properties of Sahara group. The petitioner is seeking parole on health grounds but it is for this court to decide that issue.
On the last date of hearing, the apex court had asked SEBI to initiate the process of selling 87 “unencumbered” properties of Sahara group, whose title deeds are with the market regulator, to generate the bail money for release of its chief.
SEBI was asked to devise a suitable mechanism for the sale in consultation and under the supervision of Justice Agrawal, former Supreme Court Judge, and also seek help of experts or expert agencies, if required in the process.
The regulator was also asked to keep the Sahara group “duly informed about the steps taken by it in which event Sahara shall be free to provide such inputs as may be considered necessary so that the properties fetch a fair price towards sale consideration”.
SEBI was also asked not to sell any property owned by the beleaguered group for a price less than 90 per cent of the circle rates for the area in question without the permission of the court, the Supreme Court had ordered on March 29.
For the interim bail of 67-year-old Roy, the court had put conditions like depositing Rs 5,000 crore in cash and a bank guarantee of equal amount and tough terms including payment of the entire Rs 36,000 crore, which includes interest. The money will be paid back to the investors of Sahara.