New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed Sahara Group to sell its Aamby Valley township, spread over 6,700 acres in Pune district, in parts through a court-appointed liquidator.
The official liquidator of the Bombay high court along with the court receiver was directed to submit a report assessing the saleable parcels of the project and their approximate value by end of March. Thereafter, the sale process will begin.
The direction came after the court was informed by the official liquidator of the difficulties in selling the township as a whole.
“This is a huge plot and there have been two failed instances at selling it as a whole as there were no bidders. It’s a suggestion that the court may consider allowing us to sell it in the form of parcels as it will make the process much easier," said counsel Darius J. Khambata on behalf of the official liquidator.
Khambata told the court that two companies—Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Piramal Group—had expressed interest in buying Aamby Valley, either as a whole or in parcels and are inspecting the assets.
The apex court on 23 November had appointed a receiver to ensure that the Aamby Valley auction proceeds smoothly over allegations that a previous attempt to sell the property was obstructed.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra also held that the process must be hurdle-free and warned Sahara chief Subrata Roy would be sent back to jail if it was obstructed again.
The country’s capital markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), had approached the apex court in October with a contempt plea against the Sahara Group, alleging obstruction in the Aamby Valley auction.
The auction process began on 14 August with the official liquidator inviting bids at a reserve price of Rs37,392 crore. In August, while asking Sahara to deposit Rs1,500 crore in a dedicated Sebi account by 7 September, the apex court had clarified that the auction would be stopped if the company furnished the payment in time.
Sebi moved the apex court in August 2014 to recover Rs36,000 crore to refund investors who purchased securities from two group firms. Sebi had asked the court to appoint a receiver, who would sell Sahara’s assets and raise the money.
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.
The case will be heard next on 12 April.
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.