Supreme Court denies Sahara more time to deposit Rs552 crore
Supreme Court says would begin Aamby Valley auction process if Sahara fails to deposit the amount in a dedicated Sebi account
New Delhi: The Supreme Court refused on Wednesday to extend the 15 July deadline for payment of a second instalment of Rs552 crore by the Sahara Group to a dedicated Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi)-Sahara account.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said that it was not inclined to grant any extension and directed that the cheque be deposited in the designated account by the stipulated date.
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In case the cheque isn’t honoured, the court said that it would begin the process of auction of the group’s Pune-based property, Aamby Valley, on hold right now.
The bench also warned of consequences for Sahara chief Subrata Roy should the cheque be dishonoured.
The court has been recovering money from the firm in time-bound instalments.
It recorded that the firm has so far deposited Rs1,500 crore with the Sebi-Sahara refund account towards an assurance of payment of Rs2,000 crore given to the court by Roy on 27 April. Two cheques, dated 15 June and 15 July, for Rs1,500 crore and Rs552 crore, respectively, had been handed over to the court.
Kapil Sibal, counsel for Sahara, prayed for an extension owing to difficulties the company was facing with the auction and sale of properties.
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“A total of Rs13,316 crore has been deposited towards the total payment so far. We are trying our best and it is not our intention to not pay or run away,” Sibal added.
Regarding the company’s property in Haridwar, which it is looking to auction, Arvind Datar, counsel for Sebi, requested the court for four more weeks as portions of the property were found to be encumbered. The court allowed time and added that money from the auction would be adjusted towards the rest of the payment.
It also approved the terms and conditions and draft proclamation for the auction of Aamby Valley submitted by Vinod Sharma, official liquidator of the Bombay high court, and extended time for chalking out other modalities.
Sibal had earlier informed the court of the company’s sale of its London hotel Grosvenor House to GH Equity UK Ltd for £575 million to clear its dues.
Earlier, the court had granted extension till 4 July to deposit Rs709.82 crore, out of Rs1,500 crore which was to be paid by 15 June.
Sebi moved the apex court in August 2014 to recover Rs36,000 crore from Sahara to refund investors who purchased securities from two group firms. The market regulator had asked the court to appoint a receiver who would dispose of Sahara’s domestic and offshore properties, and raise the money.
With this order, Roy’s parole stands extended till the next date of hearing on 20 July.
Sahara has filed a defamation case in a Patna court against Mint’s editor and some reporters over the newspaper’s coverage of the company’s dispute with the Securities and Exchange Board of India. Mint is contesting the case.