The official liquidator appointed by the Bombay high court for the auction of the Rs37,000-crore Aamby Valley project kick-started the process on Friday by advertising its sale.

On 23 November, the Supreme Court, which had earlier rejected Aamby Valley owner Sahara Group’s repayment plan, appointed a receiver to ensure the auction takes place smoothly after allegations that a previous attempt to sell the property was obstructed.

The advertisement, titled ‘Why dream of a villa when you can own an entire valley’, invites bids for the property spread over 6,761 acres, with a reserve price of Rs37,392 crore. 

“It is an eight-week schedule ending on 28 January," said Vinod Sharma, the official liquidator appointed by the high court, who is overseeing the bidding process. 

A Sahara Group spokesperson did not reply to an email seeking comment.  

According to the schedule on the liquidator’s website, bidders have to submit their expressions of interest within two weeks. Thereafter, the liquidator will take up the know-your-client (KYC) verification of the bidders. After the KYC is complete, the liquidator will allow the qualified interested parties to examine the documents to do with Aamby Valley. Interested parties are required to deposit 15% of the property value to qualify for the final bidding process.

“Even in the earlier instance, two parties had expressed interest in buying the property but they did not deposit 15% of the property value. So the final bidding process did not take place," said a person with direct knowledge of the matter on condition of anonymity. 

When appointing a receiver for the property, the Supreme Court had also directed that no encroachment should take place on the property and the auction should be conducted expeditiously.

In October, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had approached the apex court with a contempt plea against the Sahara Group, alleging that the company was obstructing the Aamby Valley auction process. The auction process began on 14 August with the official liquidator inviting bids, which saw interest only from two bidders. Later, on 12 September, the apex court rejected Sahara’s plea to stay the auction after the company failed to deposit Rs1,500 crore in a dedicated Sebi account by 7 September.

The market regulator had moved the apex court in August 2014 to recover Rs36,000 crore from Sahara to refund investors or bondholders who had purchased securities from two group firms. Sebi, which deemed the sale of securities illegal, had asked the court to appoint a receiver to sell Sahara’s properties and raise the money. The court has been recovering money from the group in instalments.

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