New Delhi: Irked over non-submission of money, the Supreme Court today decided to sell Rs 34,000 crore worth properties of the Sahara Group at the Aamby Valley and sought Subrata Roys presence next week when it could consider sending him back to jail.
“As no amount has been deposited by the contemnor (Roy), we are inclined to go ahead with auction for the Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, Maharashtra,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.
Making its mind clear, the bench, which also comprised Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said the interim orders granting reliefs, including parole to Roy, “shall remain in force till April 27, as on that day, this court may rethink of varying the interim order of bail and think of sending the contemnor (Roy and others) to custody.”
During the hearing, the bench said, “Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow” and took strong note of the non-submission of money.
The bench also cautioned Roy from playing with the courts order and said non-compliance of its order would invite the wrath of the law.
The court agreed to amicus curiae Shekhar Naphades suggestion that Official Liquidator (OL) of the Bombay High Court be directed to conduct the sale and asked Roy and market regulator SEBI to provide necessary details of Aamby Valley properties to the OL within 48 hours of receipt of the order.
It directed the apex court registry to send a copy of its order to the OL, who, in turn, “must complete the exercise of valuation within ten days and send a report to this court”.
“Arvind P Datar, senior counsel being assisted by Pratap Venugopal, counsel appearing for SEBI, shall provide necessary details of the said property to the OL, who with his team, shall make the valuation and proceed with the auction.
“Counsel appearing for the contemnor (Roy) shall provide all necessary details of the property also to the OL within 48 hours,” the bench said.
Taking serious note of Roys parole extension, it said he should have been taken into custody after conducting last rites of his mother and “indulgence” was granted for repayment of money in the SEBI-Sahara account.
“We are absolutely sure that the contemnor (Roy) shall be guided by the affidavit that has been sworn and filed before this court and not play truancy with its contents.
“He who plays truancy with the Majesty of Law, invites the wrath and, may, ultimately, has to suffer the peril,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Sahara Group, said the company has shares in Aamby Valley and he will put every details regarding them before the court.
The bench also took strong note of the affidavit of one Prakash Swamy, power of attorney holder of MG Capital Holdings LLC, New York, USA, that there was “difficulty to go with the transaction” of purchasing Saharas Hotel Plaza.
It took note of the fact that the company did not deposit Rs 750 crore with the SEBI Sahara Refund Account to show its bonafide in purchasing the Hotel Plaza, valued at USD 550 million.
“As an affidavit of this nature was filed before this Court, we would like Rana Mukherjee, senior counsel appearing for Union of India, to intimate Ministry of External Affairs, so that Dr Prakash Swamy does not leave India.
“The UOI shall also issue a Red Corner Notice against Dr Prakash Swamy in the course of the day. It is further directed that Dr Prakash Swamy shall deposit a sum of Rs 10 crore in the SEBI Sahara Refund Account, which shall be forfeited towards costs,” it said.
It directed that Rs 10 crore be deposited within ten days, “failing which this court may issue non-bailable warrants of arrest against Prakash Swamy”.
The apex court also asked Swamy, a Chennai resident, to deposit his passport before the Regional Passport Officer, Chennai, Shastri Bhawan, by tomorrow.
Swamy will have to appear before the court on April 27, it said adding that the Superintendent of Police of Chennai be informed to ensure his presence.
Responding to todays court order, Sahara group, in a statement, said “Sahara is committed for making the payment of Rs 10,000 crore plus within July/August 2017. But the Court is not accepting it, but asking for auction of Aamby Valley.
“Since last three hearings, the court is insisting about Aamby Valley auction. The market valuation of Aamby Valley is above Rs one lakh crore, so auctioning under distress will be undue favour/benefits for any bidder,” lawyer Gautam Awasthi said on behalf of the group.
The group also said it “has deposited around Rs 12000 crore in last 4 years, which comes on an average to Rs 250 crores per month deposit in SEBI-Sahara account. By any Indian Corporate standard Rs 250 crore every month for 48 months is huge amount. So Sahara should be appreciated for obedience of courts order”.
It also said Sahara has made these payments despite the fact that it “has already repaid more than 93 per cent of our liability of OFCD of the two companies M/s Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited and M/s Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited.”
“Meaning more than Rs 22,000 crore of liability Sahara has already paid and this Rs 12,000 crore is in addition, that is duplication of payment,” it said adding “the court should understand and do justice, otherwise 39-year old company with 12 lakh workers earning their bread and butter shall collapse.”
The apex court had on April 6 warned the Group that if it failed to deposit Rs 5092.6 crore in SEBI-Sahara refund account by April 17 in pursuance of its order, it will be “compelled” to auction its property at the Aamby Valley.
The court had on November 28 last year asked Roy to deposit Rs 600 crore more by February 6 in the refund account to remain out of jail and warned that failure to do so would result in his return to prison.
It had on May 6, 2016 granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on March 4, 2014.
Besides Roy, two other directors — Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary — were arrested for failure of the groups two companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) — to comply with the courts August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors. Director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.