SC rejects Subrata plea to stay Aamby Valley auction

The Supreme Court today rejected Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy's plea to stay the global auction of the group's Aamby Valley property in Pune district of Maharashtra.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri said, "The prayer of the contemnor (Roy) is hereby rejected".

Justice Mishra said the court will only stay the auctioning of Aamby Valley if and when the group deposits Rs1,500 crore with the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Roy, said that the auction process should be put on hold till September so that his client could arrange for the amount to be deposited in the Sebi-Sahara account. The bench, however, said that it will pass orders at an appropriate time.

Roy had moved the apex court on Wednesday seeking to put a hold on the auction process by the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court for the group's Aamby Valley property worth at least Rs34,000 crore.

Sibal and Rohatgi requested the court to put the auction on hold as the company is in the midst of negotiations with a foreign company to sell a 26 per cent stake in Aamby Valley. But the apex court dismissed the plea and gave the go-ahead to the liquidator appointed by it to initiate auctioning of Aamby Valley assets.

The SC had on 25 July asked the embattled Sahara chief to deposit Rs1,500 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account by 7 September and said that it might then deliberate upon his plea seeking 18 months' more time for making complete repayment.

The court had simultaneously approved the draft sale notice and terms to dispose of the property prepared by the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court.

''The steps which are required to be taken for the publication of the sale notice, are allowed," the court said.

The Sahara Group had earlier sought 18 months' time to repay around Rs9,000 crore balance of the principal amount of Rs24,000 crore.

Sibal, however, had said that according to the group, the remaining amount was around Rs8,000 crore and it had made all efforts to deposit the money.

Instead of the monthly exercise of fixing the installment to be paid by Sahara, the court decided to go for the entire Rs9,000 crore that is still to be paid by the corporate house to market regulator Sebi.

In 2012, Sahara valued the property at Rs34,000 crore but the liquidator has estimated its worth at Rs43,000 crore.

Roy spent almost two years in jail and has been on parole since 6 May last year. The parole was granted at first to enable him attend the funeral of his mother and has been extended since then.

Besides Roy, two other directors - Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary - were arrested for failure of the group's two companies - Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) - to comply with the court's 31 August 2012 order to return Rs24,000 crore to investors. No action was taken against another company director, Vandana Bhargava.