The Supreme Court today directed the Sahara Group to deposit Rs 5092.6 crore by April 7 in the SEBI-Sahara account to keep its chief Subrata Roy out of jail and said the amount will be refunded to the investors. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra refused to give six months time to the group to sell its properties but allowed it to sell assets, mentioned in the list furnished by it, for refund of money. However, the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, observed that in case the group deposits a “substantial amount” out of Rs 5092.6 crore by April 7, the court may extend the time to sell other properties.
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The judges said the group can sell 13 out of the 15 properties mentioned in one of the lists to deposit the amount and can also sell the properties, which are unencumbered, and mentioned in the other list given by it.
“In view of the aforesaid, we permit the contemnor to sell the properties mentioned in part A (of the list), barring items 14 and 15, and any other properties mentioned in part B which are unencumbered and to deposit Rs 5092.6 crore on or before April 7. The amount shall be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara refund account,” it said.
“In case, a substantial amount is deposited by then, this court may intend to extend the time,” they said. The bench also asked an international real estate firm, which has shown willingness to buy Sahara’s stake in New York-based Plaza Hotel for 550 million USD, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the apex court registry before April 10 to show its bonafide.
At the outset, senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the SEBI, told the bench that one of the properties mentioned relates to the stakes or shareholding of the firm in formula one racing team Force India, and it should be excluded from auction. He said the SEBI had tried to auction some of the properties mentioned in the list but it was unsuccessful and suggested that an e-auction could be done.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sahara, submitted that the court can attach some of their properties as security and the group would give an undertaking that if it does not pay the amount in 22 months, these assets can be sold. To this, the bench said, “Why cannot e-auction method be followed as is being done in auctioning of spectrum?”