SC nod to Sahara for selling four Indian properties

The Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted the Sahara Group to proceed with the sale of four properties in India, which is likely to fetch Rs2,710 crore. The group needs to raise Rs10,000 crore to obtain bail for its jailed chief Subrato Roy.

The court allowed the group to sell properties in Jodhpur, Pune, Chauma in Gurgaon and Vasai in Mumbai after it was satisfied that the transactions were in accordance with its 4 June order.

This order had stated that "such sales are not for a price lower than the estimated value indicated in the statement filed before this Court or the circle rates fixed for the area in which such properties are situated".

The bench permitted it to go ahead with the proposed deal and deposit Rs50 crore with Securities & Exchange Board of India's Sahara refund account.

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur was told that the transactions for these properties would be completed by May 2015 and in the meantime, the purchasers would deposit post-dated cheques in the name of SEBI-Sahara refund account with undertakings that those would be honoured on due dates.

The bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, was informed that the group has already generated Rs184.5 crore as part payment for its assets in Jodhpur, Chauma and Vasai and following which it was allowed to hand over three demand drafts and one cheque to SEBI's counsel.

Regarding the sale of Pune property, which would fetch Rs550 crore, Sahara group through senior advocates Rajiv Dhawan and S Ganesh said that the agreement was not signed due to unavoidable circumstances and in the near future, the deal will go through and is expected to get Rs50 crore as initial part payment.

Accepting the proposal, the bench permitted it to go ahead with the proposed deal and deposit Rs50 crore with SEBI-Sahara refund account.

Out of the list of nine domestic properties, Sahara has already sold its Ahmedabad property and has raised Rs411.82 crores which has gone into the account of SEBI.

However, Sahara Group would have to wait for getting clearance for raising a 'junior loan' of $ 650 million (Rs3,600 crore) as a part of the scheme to overcome the liability with Bank of China which had lent it money for purchasing stakes in three overseas hotels, Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London.

SEBI's counsel Arvind Dattar and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, submitted that certain terms of transactions were not clear, like the issue of escrow agent and the liability which is likely to rise for the Sahara.

The bench asked the Sahara Group to provide all information sought by the amicus curiae and the market regulator within a week and posted the matter for further hearing on 17 December.