Millennium Post

Sale of Sahara assets ‘herculean task’: Datar

Selling properties of the Sahara group will be a “herculean task”, market regulator Sebi’s lawyer Arvind Datar said on Friday, citing example of the recent no-show by bidders at an auction for Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher House building.

To raise the bail money amount for the release of Sahara’s chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court has asked Sebi to initiate the process of selling 87 “unencumbered” properties of the Sahara group, whose title deeds are with the regulator.

Datar, who has been Sebi’s counsel in the long-drawn legal battle with the Sahara group, said it would be a herculean task to sell the properties.

“What I am worried is that there are several properties worth approximately Rs 40,000 crore. Now, we have to go for title scrutiny, we have to get all that done and that is a herculean task,” he said.

Responding to a query on whether there is a time-line for the sale of assets, Datar cited ignorance. “For example, Mallya’s Kingfisher building has not been sold... I have suggested that let’s not go into valuations, what is the circle rate and if I am getting a value of 90 per cent, I have the liberty subject to the judge’s approval to sell the property. I have no time line,” he said.

Banks recently put to auction Kingfisher House, the erstwhile headquarters of the long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, as part of their efforts to recover dues totalling over Rs 9,000 crore from Mallya and his group firms.

But, no bid came through and the banks are still working on a fresh process to sell the property, whose base prices was pegged at Rs 150 crore.

Datar was interacting with the audience after delivering a lecture on ‘Sahara vs Sebi’ case, organised by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy here.

Regarding the progress on Sebi’s refund process for Sahara investors, as directed by the Supreme Court, he said there are three crore total depositors but refund claims have been made by 5,000 depositors.

“The total amount refunded by Sebi is Rs 55 crore as I speak,” he added. 
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