Supreme Court orders Aamby Valley auction, summons Subrata Roy
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the official liquidator of the Bombay high court to auction Aamby Valley City, Sahara Group’s flagship property in Maharashtra, to recover the money it owes investors.
The apex court also directed Sahara India chief Subrata Roy to personally appear before the court at the next hearing in the case on 27 April.
“Verify, make an evaluation and proceed with sale,” the court said in a directive to the official liquidator of the Bombay high court.
Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A.K. Sikri directed the auction of Aamby Valley, located in Pune district, after Sahara failed to deposit Rs5,092.64 crore with the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India. It owes the money to investors who purchased securities sold by two group companies through schemes that Sebi ruled were illegal.
Aamby Valley is Sahara’s flagship project, consisting of luxury resorts, man-made lakes and an airport. It is spread over 4,000 hectares. In January 2012, Sahara valued the property at Rs34,000 crore.
“The market valuation of Aamby Valley is over Rs1 lakh crore so auctioning under distress will be an undue benefit for any bidder,” Sahara said in a statement on Monday.
“The property...would be saleable only if it is sold in... 50-100 acre parcels instead of trying to sell it to a single buyer,” said a top executive at a property advisory on condition of anonymity.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who appeared for Sahara, said the sale of three overseas hotels owned by Sahara Group—two in downtown New York and the plush Grosvenor House in London—will be finalized by 28 May.
The court also imposed costs of Rs10 crore on MG Capital Holdings, a US-based real estate company that had moved the apex court seeking to buy Sahara’s stake in the overseas hotels. The US company failed to heed a previous court directive to deposit Rs750 crore as earnest money in Sebi’s dedicated Sahara account.
In March 2014, Roy and two associates were placed under judicial custody after Sahara Group failed to comply with the court’s directions to refund investors. In May 2016, Roy and the two were granted parole by the court. This was extended to 17 April in February.
Madhurima Nandy in Bengaluru contributed to this story.
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.