SC may appoint receiver for sale of Sahara's assets

The Supreme Court is weighing the option of appointing a receiver to auction off Sahara group's properties to raise money to recover liabilities of over Rs36,000 crore after the group failed to pay up even the Rs10,000 crore needed to bail out chairman Subrata Roy and two other directors.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice TS Thakur on Monday said it would examine the pros and cons of appointing a receiver to dispose of Sahara properties in the week beginning 14 September after Roy told the court that neither he nor anyone else would be able to raise an amount of Rs 10,000 crore from behind the bars.

Justice TS Thakur, who will become the Chief Justice of India later this year, expressed surprise at the fact that a group claiming Rs1,85,000 crore in assets is unable to pay Rs10,000 crore to set its chief free.

"You have to pay only the one-fifth of your amount. The person who is blessed with so much money is sacrificing his liberty in jail and not parting away with his property. You are in jail by choice," the SC bench observed.

"Let the property be taken over and let a receiver manage the property and give us a report. They (Roy and the two directors) seem incapable of generating the amount for their release. It is not a very happy situation. The way it's proceeding, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere," the bench of Justices T S Thakur, A R Dave and A K Sikri said.

The judges made the remarks after Sahara's counsel Kapil Sibal made a submission that it was not fair for the court to put Roy inside the jail when the contempt proceedings against him were not over.

He also complained about a different treatment for his client who is denied the facility of rescheduling debt, which other large business houses enjoy. Their loans of considerable amount like Rs1,000 crore get rescheduled for payment in five or 10 years by the RBI or banks, he added.

The senior advocate said it was difficult for Roy to arrange a big amount for his release by staying inside the jail and the court should consider humanitarian grounds for his release.

The bench, however, declines saying, "please appreciate we have certain constraints. Read the previous orders passed by this court. You will know why your client is in jail. Read it you will not say."

The court also asked market regulator Sebi to file an application on this.

Roy and the two directors were taken into custody on 4 March last year for their repeated failure to comply with the SC's earlier orders directing two group companies to refund Rs24,000 crore to nearly 30 million investors.

The court had on 26 March agreed to grant bail to Roy and the other two directors provided they furnished Rs5,000 crore in cash and Rs5,000 crore through bank guarantee to Sebi.