The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the auction of Sahara’s township Aamby Valley in Maharashtra to raise money for refunding investors, and directed its chief Subrata Roy to show up on April 27 when it would decide whether to send him back to jail. “Enough is enough … too much indulgence has already been given to this man (Roy). We will deal with this man and his properties directly. Let no one play with the statutes. As no amount has been deposited … we are inclined to go ahead with auction for the Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, Maharashtra,” said a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra.
Sahara was supposed to deposit more than Rs 5,000 crore in the Sebi-Sahara investors’ refund account by Monday to enable Roy remain out on bail but the group failed to do so. The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said it was not willing to wait any longer when Sahara was in repeated breach of its undertakings. The court then appointed Official Liquidator of the Bombay High Court for conducting the sale. “Sebi shall provide the necessary details of the said property to the Official Liquidator, who with his team, shall make the valuation and proceed with the auction,” said the bench.
It directed the Liquidator to assess the values of the properties within 10 days and present a report by April 27. Sahara has also been ordered to give all details of the properties in Aamby Valley to the Liquidator within 48 hours. As the counsel for Sahara sought to argue that some of the properties in Aamby Valley were privately owned and had third-party interests, the court warned the group against retracting from its previous statement that the township was worth Rs 34,000 crore, which alone would be sufficient to meet the shortfall in repayment. “We are absolutely sure that the contemnor (Roy) shall be guided by the affidavit that has been sworn and filed before this Court and not play truancy with the contents of the affidavit. He, who plays truancy with the Majesty of Law, invites the wrath and, may, ultimately, has to suffer the peril,” said the bench.
It added that the interim order passed in May 2016, whereby Roy was allowed to come out on parole following the death of his mother and subsequent orders on letting him remain outside on depositing money, shall hold good only till April 27 when he would have to be personally present in court.
“The interim order passed on the earlier occasion shall remain in force till 27th April, 2017, as on that day, this Court may rethink of varying the interim order of bail and think of sending the contemnor (Roy) to custody,” it said. In an official statement, Sahara said that although the group was willing to pay Rs 10,000 crore by August, the apex court was insisting upon sale of Aamby Valley. “Since last three hearings, the court is insisting on Aamby Valley’s auction. The market valuation of Aamby Valley is Rs 1 lakh crore so auctioning under distress will be undue favour/benefit for any bidder,” it said.
Meanwhile, the court directed that a red corner notice will be issued by the authorities against Prakash Swamy, power of attorney holder for MG Capital Holdings LLC — an international real estate company which had shown interest in buying Sahara’s stakes in New York-based Plaza Hotel but failed to deposit Rs 750 crore in court to prove its bonafide.
Reprimanding the counsel for the group on failing to fulfill its commitment despite an affidavit, the bench said that Swamy’s passport shall be confiscated and he would have to show up on April 27. “It is further directed that Prakash Swamy shall deposit a sum of Rs 10 crore in the Sebi-Sahara refund account, which shall be forfeited towards costs. The amount should be deposited within 10 days hence, failing which this Court may issue non-bailable warrants of arrest against him,” ordered the bench.
Sahara was supposed to deposit more than Rs 5,000 crore in the Sebi-Sahara investors’ refund account by Monday to enable Roy remain out on bail