New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday held that the auction of Aamby Valley, Sahara Group’s flagship property in Maharashtra, will proceed as per the court’s April order and directed the registrar general of the Bombay high court to be personally present to oversee the auction scheduled to take place in Mumbai.
In August, while asking the Sahara Group to deposit Rs1,500 crore in a dedicated Sebi account by 7 September, the apex court had clarified that the Aamby Valley auction process would be stopped if the company furnished the payment in time.
Kapil Sibal, counsel for Sahara sought more time for the company to deposit the money and told the court that it would submit two post-dated cheques of 11 November to ensure payment.
Rejecting the request, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “Grant of further time to Sahara and entertaining post-dated cheques would be tantamount to travesty of justice and extending unwarranted sympathy to a person who is indubitably an abuser of the process of law."
Sibal told the court that there was no urgency since no creditors were involved and that if the court allowed extension till November, the company’s bonafide would be clear.
The Aamby Valley auction process began on 14 August with the official liquidator inviting bids at a reserve price of Rs37,392 crore.
The markets regulator moved the apex court in August 2014 to recover Rs36,000 crore from Sahara to refund investors who had purchased securities from two group firms. Sebi had asked the court to appoint a receiver who would sell Sahara’s properties and raise the money. The court has been recovering money from the group in instalments.
As part of the last recovery, Sahara was required to deposit Rs552 crore, of which it deposited Rs247 crore. The remaining Rs305 crore was part of the Rs1,500 crore that it was directed to pay under the last instalment in August.
On 25 July, the court directed the official liquidator of the Bombay high court to initiate the first two steps of the process to auction Aamby Valley. This would include publication of the sale notice of the property and fulfilment of the KYC (know your customer) norms to be submitted by prospective bidders.