The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Sahara group to sell a portion of its Aamby Valley property by May 15 to raise Rs 750 crore, which is to be deposited with Sebi, even as it allowed the court-appointed liquidator and the receiver to proceed with the auction of the asset.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri asked Sahara chief Subrata Roy to go ahead with the sale after his counsel Vikas Singh contended that the company could get better valuation for the property if he was allowed to sell it. The court allowed Roy to dispose of part of the property in the presence of the liquidator and the receiver, and set a deadline of May 15 for the same
Aamby Valley is Sahara’s most valuable project, comprising luxury resorts, man-made lakes and an airport. A meticulously planned city with world-class infrastructure and facilities, it is spread over 10,000 hectares near Pune in Maharashtra.
Senior advocate Darius Khambata, appearing for the liquidator and receiver, told the bench that the auction process had been initiated as per the court’s direction and bids invited for the assets. He said the auction process would be completed by June-end. He also told the bench that 116 cars belonging to the Sahara group had been sold for Rs 6.5 crore.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Sebi, told the bench that Sahara was still to pay Rs 11,415 crore out of the Rs 25,781 crore of the principal amount to the market regulator. Sahara’s advocate Vikas Singh urged the court not to put the assets under the hammer and said the company had already refunded money to its investors. He asked the court to direct Sebi to first verify investor documents and proposed to give a bank guarantee for the outstanding amount. He said the company had already paid Rs 50 crore for digitisation of the document but the market regulator was not verifying it.
In January 2012, Sahara valued the Aamby Valley property at Rs 34,000 crore but the liquidator has pegged its worth at Rs 43,000 crore. On July 25 last year, the SC had allowed the liquidator appointed by it to auction the property under the supervision of the company judge of Bombay HC and Justice A S Oka.
Instead of the monthly exercise of fixing the instalment to be paid by Sahara group, the apex court had decided to go the whole hog to fetch over Rs 9,000 crore yet to be paid by the corporate house to Sebi. Roy, who was arrested and spent almost two years behind bars, was released on May 6, 2016 and has since been out of jail.