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SC to Sebi: Start selling Sahara group properties to get bail money for Subrata Roy

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also asked the regulator not to sell any of the properties of the beleaguered group below 90 per cent of the circle rates.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: March 30, 2016 1:53:47 am
The apex court had asked 65-year-old Roy to pay Rs 10,000 crore to get bail, out of which Rs 5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest in bank guarantees. The apex court had asked 65-year-old Roy to pay Rs 10,000 crore to get bail, out of which Rs 5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest in bank guarantees.

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Sebi to start selling properties of Sahara conglomerate for generating bail money required for Subrata Roy’s release. Recording Sahara group’s inability to sell its properties, the court said the market regulator should devise a suitable mechanism for sale of the properties so that Rs 10,000 crore is finally deposited with the Sebi as a pre-condition set by the apex court to secure release of Roy and two other directors who are imprisoned since March 2014.

A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur decided to direct Sebi for selling Sahara’s properties after it was informed that a list of 86 properties, which according to Sahara’s lawyers were worth Rs 40,000 crore, had been handed over to the regulator to show the group’s bonafide.

“You (Sebi) already have the list. Why don’t you sell the properties? They (Sahara) have no objection since their attempts to sell these properties have failed. You start selling them one by one and keep them informed about the money that comes in. You can do it under the supervision of Justice BN Agrawal who has been appointed by us to oversee the process,” the bench said.

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It also said that properties should not be sold for less than 90 per cent of the circle rate for the area concerned and that Sebi shall seek the court’s permission if it wants to sell any property at a lower rate.

Datar’s argument that Sebi may be given the liberty to sell Aamby Valley City in Maharashtra so that the entire money can come at one go failed to cut ice with the bench, which said that Roy may have some sentiments attached with the Aamby Valley and that he should not be forced to sell it.

The court also adjourned for April 27 the hearing on Sebi’s application for appointing a receiver to auction Sahara’s properties when it will take up all other applications moved by the group as well. During the hearing, Sahara’s counsel Kapil Sibal mentioned that they want to sell Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai, four private jets and also the Formula One team to raise fund and that an application has been filed in this regard. The bench said that all the applications shall be taken up on the next date.

At one point, Sibal sought to complain about the order by which Roy had been jailed and claimed this could not have been done under any other jurisdiction of the world. “Why should the court keep a man in jail for over two years without holding him guilty of any offence or wrong? Nowhere in the world is such a situation seen. The facts and law are on our side. No jurisdiction in the world will allow this. It is a very serious matter,” Sibal said.

But the submission did not go down well with the bench, which pointed out that it has also happened nowhere in the world that a man claims that his assets are worth Rs 1.86 lakh crore but despite being given two years, he could not deposit Rs 10,000 crore to come out of jail. “We are not sitting in appeal over our judgment by which he was sent to jail. Many things happen here which may not be happening elsewhere in the world. So long you are being held guilty of contempt, you are inside and the conditions set by this court shall stand. We have heard this many times about our order but we must make it clear that it must end now. Don’t lecture us,” the bench retorted.

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