With the two interested firms escalating their bids, the Supreme Court on Monday conducted a court-room auction for sale of the Sahara group’s 46-acre land in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur.
As both the firms stood resolute on forking out whatever it takes to get the piece of land, a bench led by Justice T S Thakur had to resort to a competitive bidding in order to fetch the best price of Sahara’s asset, which will be utilised for arranging its chief Subrata Roy’s bail money.
As bail money, the group has to arrange Rs 10,000 crore, partly in cash and rest in the form of bank guarantee, to enable Roy and two other directors walk out of Delhi’s Tihar jail after 16 months.
The bench had earlier allowed Sahara to enter into a definitive agreement with Samriddhi Developers for development of 45.71 acre out of the total land area of 146 acres in Gorakhpur. Samriddhi offered Rs 64 crore to Sahara which was lower than 5 percent of the estimated value. However, underlining the slump in the real estate market, the court had allowed Sahara to go ahead with the deal.
Days later, Gorakhpur Real Estate Developers Pvt Ltd entered the arena and told the bench it was willing to pay Rs 110 crore for the same piece of land. It also deposited in the court Rs 11 crore as a token of honouring its commitment for paying this much money.
The drama took yet another turn on Monday when Samriddhi told the bench it would match the Rs 110 crore offer made by the Gorakhpur Pvt Ltd.
As soon as Paras Kuhad, who was appearing for Samriddhi, said his firm would pay Rs 110 crore for the land, counsel for the Gorakhpur Pvt Ltd, Kamini Jaiswal, shot they would pay Rs 115 crore. The bench, also comprising Justices Anil R Dave and A K Sikri then looked at Kuhad, expecting his response if he was willing to hike the price.
Kuhad had a word with one of the partners of Samriddhi Developers who was present in the court, and jacked the bid to Rs 125 crore; the next minute the Gorakhpur Pvt Ltd raised it to Rs 140 crore. Not ready to give up, Kuhad and Jaiswal then kept enhancing their bid by Rs 5 lakh till they finally settled at Rs 150 crore. Both the parties said they were willing to shell out Rs 150 crore for the land.
At this, the bench asked both the parties to deposit 25 per cent of the final amount by July 31 in the SEBI-Sahara account so as to show their bonafide. Rest of the money, it said, will have to be arranged in three equal installments by October 31. The bench added failure of any of the two firms to meet the deadline would result in forfeiture of the money deposited by them. It posted the matter for hearing on August 3.