New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Sahara Group to deposit Rs1,500 crore in a dedicated Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) account by 7 September.

The markets regulator moved the apex court in August 2014 to recover Rs36,000 crore from Sahara to refund investors who 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. Sahara has paid Rs16,000 crore till now.

As part of the last recovery, Sahara was required to deposit Rs552 crore, of which it deposited Rs247 crore. The remaining Rs305 crore is part of the Rs1,500 crore that it has been directed to pay under the latest instalment.

Justice Dipak Misra also directed the official liquidator of the Bombay high court to initiate, in the mean time, the first two steps of the process to auction Aamby Valley, a township developed by Sahara near Pune. This would include publication of the sale notice of the property and the satisfaction of the KYC (know your customer) norms to be submitted by prospective bidders.

Misra said the auction process (beyond the first two steps) would be stopped if Sahara furnished the payment in time.

The court rejected Sahara counsel Kapil Sibal’s plea for time till October for payment, holding that such extensions had become a monthly exercise. As an alternative, he asked the court to give them a year and a half within which they would repay the debt in total (towards the designated Sebi account). He also asked the court to allow the Sahara group to resume business so it could earn revenue that could be put to use for recovery of dues at a faster rate.

“Grant of time without any steps taken by the court would tantamount to giving indulgence at the price of procrastination," said Justice Misra.

On 5 July, the apex court refused to extend the 15 July deadline for payment of a second instalment of Rs552 crore by Sahara and said that if the cheque wasn’t honoured, it would begin the process of auction of Aamby Valley.

The firm has so far deposited Rs1,747 crore with the Sebi-Sahara refund account towards an assurance of payment of Rs2,000 crore given to the court by Sahara India chief Subrata 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. The case will be heard next on 11 September.

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.

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