SC attaches Sahara's Aamby Valley
The Supreme Court on Monday attached the Sahara Group's Aamby Valley property in Lonavala in Maharashtra for the recovery of about Rs 14,000 crore that the group's two companies have to repay to the investors.
A bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice A.K. Sikri also directed Sahara to submit a list of its properties that are unencumbered and free from any litigations or mortgage by February 20. It directed for next hearing on February 27.
The Rs 14,000 crore is the balance of the principal amount that Sahara's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd.(SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL) -- have to pay.
Sahara has already paid about Rs 11,000 crore of the principal amount to market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India for returning to over three crore investors.
"We are not appointing any receiver. We are attaching your Aamby Valley," the bench said as senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sahara chief Subrata Roy, told the court that the attachment of Aamby Valley will adversely impact the company efforts to mobilise money to pay to the SEBI.
While attaching the Aamby Valley property, the bench said for now they were not sending Subrata Roy back to jail.
"... you deposit the amount you have to pay. We are not sending you to custody for now," the court said.
The bench made it clear that Sahara will first have to comply with the court's order and deposit money with the market regulator before its request for a hearing could be granted.
As Sibal urged the court to grant him hearing for two hours to show errors apparent in two court judgments, the bench told him that "unless the money comes, we can't grant you two hours' hearing. This is a condition that you pay".
Sibal told the court that the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had said that 85 per cent of the investors are genuine.
He said Sahara was being asked to deposit the money with the SEBI to return to investors whereas there was no demand either from the banks or individual investors to that affect.
"There is no question of getting back. You have to pay. Please give us the list that is good enough for Rs 14,799 crore. Why we should sit every now and then for Rs 200 or Rs 300 crore? You give us a list, we will sell it and give you a hearing."
Amicus curiae Shekhar Naphade told the bench: "It has gone too long. Every two to three months they are paying Rs 600 crore. There are income tax demands, issues with the Reserve Bank of India."
Sahara, meanwhile, deposited Rs 600 crore as per the November 28, 2016, court order for continued parole of Subrata Roy and others.
SIRECL and SHICL were asked on August 31, 2012, to return to the investors Rs 17,600 crore with 15 per cent interest that the two companies raised through Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures (OFCD) in 2008 and 2009.
Subrata Roy, his son-in-law Ashok Roy Choudhary and group's Director Ravi Shankar Dubey, who are now on parole, were sent in judicial custody to Tihar Jail on March 4, 2014, for the failure of the two companies to comply with the court's August 31, 2012, order.
Roy was granted parole on May 6, 2016, to perform the last rites of his mother who passed away on May 5. Besides Roy, Choudhary too was released on parole. Dubey was released on parole later.