I-T Dept slaps Rs24,647-cr fresh demand on Sahara's Aamby Valley

Subrata Roy and his Sahara Group are in for fresh trouble with the Income Tax Department slapping a Rs24,646 crore tax demand on flagship property Aamby Valley Ltd, in what could be the biggest tax due by any corporate house.

The department slapped the demand after it raised Aamby Valley's income for the assessment year 2012-13 by Rs48,000 crore, which it alleged the company had tried to conceal in its tax filing.

The I-T move comes on the back of Supreme Court order on the group last week asking authorities to auction Aamby Valley after the group failed to deposit Rs5,000 crore of the remaining Rs14,000 crore to be paid to investors.

The Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy, who is facing a case in SC and had spent two years in prison for not refunding investors' money as directed by the court, is currently on parole.

Sahara has so far deposited more than Rs11,000 crore with the Securities and Exchange Board of India following SC direction to repay investors of Sahara Real Estate and Sahara Housing Rs25,000 crore, with interest.

The Supreme Court last week decided to sell Sahara Group's Aamby Valley property, estimated to be worth Rs34,000 crore as the group failed to repay investors despite several court reminders (See: SC puts Sahara's Aamby Valley on the block for failure to deposit refunds).

The apex court also asked Subrata Roy to be physically present in the court on 27 April when it could consider sending him back to jail.

"As no amount has been deposited by the contemnor (Roy), we are inclined to go ahead with auction for the Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, Maharashtra," a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said on 17 April.

The bench, which also comprised Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said the interim orders granting reliefs, including parole to Roy, "shall remain in force till April 27, as on that day, this court may rethink of varying the interim order of bail and think of sending the contemnor (Roy and others) to custody."

During the hearing, the bench took cognizance of Sahara's non-compliance said, "Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow."

The group was to deposit Rs50,92.6 crore in Sebi-Sahara refund account, which is to be used to refund the investors as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2012. The group was ordered to repay about Rs25,000 crore, including interest, to investors in its illegal optionally fully convertible debentures.

The bench also cautioned Roy from playing with the court's order and said non-compliance of its order would invite the wrath of the law.

The court agreed to amicus curiae Shekhar Naphade's suggestion that Official Liquidator (OL) of the Bombay High Court be directed to conduct the sale of Aamby Valley and asked Roy and market regulator SEBI to provide necessary details of Aamby Valley properties to the OL within 48 hours of receipt of the order.

It directed the apex court registry to send a copy of its order to the OL, who, in turn, "must complete the exercise of valuation within ten days and send a report to this court".