The auctioning process of Sahara group's prized Aamby Valley properties was put off by the Supreme Court today after it was informed that the auction notice had failed to elicit any response from prospective buyers.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed about this by the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court, which was earlier directed to go ahead with the auctioning of these properties to realise the money of the investors.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, then agreed to the submission of senior advocate Vikas Singh, the counsel for Sahara Group, that the court-appointed receiver of the Aamby Valley properties and the Official Liquidator be discharged of their duties.
Besides putting off the auctioning process, the bench directed two firms -- Sai Rydam Realtors Private limited and Prime Down Town Real Estate Private limited-- to deposit Rs 1,000 crore with the SEBI-Sahara account after the Sahara group submitted that the firms were willing to purchase their property at Vasai near Mumbai.
The Sahara Group said the sale of its Vasai property could fetch Rs 1,000 crore which would be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account.
The bench then asked the two firms to deposit a demand draft of Rs 99 crore today itself and gave a time-line for depositing the remaining amount.
It asked the two firms to deposit Rs 200 crore by August 15 and Rs 682.8 crore by September 12, while cautioning them that any default would amount to contempt and the deposited amount would be forfeited.
On being informed that the Sahara group has already sold its hotel in New York, the bench asked the company to file an affidavit giving details about the sale and the use of the money thereafter.
At the outset, Singh said that SEBI should be directed to conduct a verification drive for investors, as the group has already paid around Rs 20,000 crore with the SEBI-Sahara account.
The bench said it would consider this later after the money is deposited with the SEBI-Sahara account.
Later, the Sahara group in a statement said, "Today, the court has agreed to remove the Receiver and Official liquidator from Aamby Valley and has also ordered that all documents and papers pertaining to Aamby Valley to be given back to Sahara and Sahara can start operations in Aamby Valley."
It also said that "Advocate Vikas Singh stated that Sahara is paying its liability second time and stated that SEBI is already having about Rs 20,000 crore of Saharas.
"Let SEBI meanwhile start verification of investors. Once verification is done, Sahara would get back the said amount with interest. He stated when this court has directed SEBI for verification, why SEBI is not starting the verification process."
The top court on May 16 had held that the process to auction group's Aamby Valley property in Maharashtra would continue as the group has failed to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for SEBI, had then said the total amount was Rs 25,781.23 crore, out of which Rs 14,357 crore principal amount has already been deposited by the group. With interest, the deposited amount would come to around Rs 18,187 crore.
He had said approximately Rs 6,500 crore was due which was to be paid by the group.
The group had earlier said it has already deposited more than Rs 17,000 crore and they deserved a hearing as a lot of issues were required to be looked into.
Roy, who has spent almost two years in jail, has been on parole since May 6 last year. The parole was granted the first time to enable him attend the funeral of his mother. It has been extended since then.
Besides Roy, two other directors -- Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)