The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court to continue the auction of the Aamby Valley property owned by the Sahara Group in Pune and warned that those trying to obstruct the process will be hauled for contempt and “sent to jail”.
“If any impediment is caused in the auctioning process by anyone, he shall be liable of contempt of this court and sent to jail,” the bench Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri ordered.
The court was hearing a plea by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) which alleged that the group had allegedly obstructed the process by writing a letter to the Pune police raising the issue of law and order at the site.
Taking exception to this, the court said the group should not have communicated with Pune’s Superintendent of the Police (Rural) on the issue as the auction was ordered by the top court.
Later however, the apex court clarified that it was not initiating any contempt action at this stage.
On Sebi’s allegation that the police had taken custody of the property due to which no bidder was willing to take part in the auction process, the bench asked the Director General of Police, Maharashtra, to ensure that the property was handed over to the liquidator within 48 hours.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Sebi, told the bench that the September 28 communication, addressed by the group to the Pune police regarding law and order situation at Aamby Valley, has stalled the ongoing auction process.
Sebi also said the letter was also sent to the additional chief secretary and no bidder was coming forward to bid for the property as the police, while taking note of the letter, has taken its custody.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the group, objected to these submissions, saying “completely wrong statements are made to prejudice the court”. He said, “no bidder has come…I (group) am not standing in the way. I have not halted anything and have not given property to the police,”
On August 10, the SC had rejected Sahara chief Subrata Roy’s plea to stay the auction and said that the process will proceed as per schedule and if Rs 1,500 crore is paid by Roy in the Sebi-Sahara refund account by September 7, then it may pass an appropriate order.
Roy, who has spent almost two years in jail, has been on parole since May 6 last year.
The parole was granted the first time to enable him attend the funeral of his mother. It has been extended from time to time since then.