The Supreme Court has ordered auction of Sahara group's prime Aamby Valley township near Lonavala in Pune for failing to deposit £500 million of the £1.4 billion due towards refund to investors. In August 2012, the court had ordered group companies Sahara Real Estate and Sahara Housing to refund £2.5 billion illegally raised through one-time fully convertible debentures from nearly 30 million investors.
On the SC's direction, Sahara has so far deposited £1.1 billion with market regulator Sebi. Failure to pay up the entire amount saw group head Subrata Roy being sent to jail on March 4, 2014. He was let out on parole in May 2016 to attend to his mother's last rites. Since then, he has been on interim bail by paying up hundreds of million of rupees in instalments.
On Monday, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri was furious that Sahara had failed to abide by the March 21 order asking it to deposit £500 million by April 17. The bench said since the group refused to abide by the SC's orders, the time had come to act on the court's threat to auction the group's prime property Aamby Valley. The SC had earlier rejected Sahara's plea for time till July 2019 to refund the balance amount.
“As no amount has been deposited by the contemnor (Subrata Roy), we are inclined to go ahead with the auction of Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, Maharashtra,” the bench said and appointed the official liquidator of Bombay High Court to elicit details of the property and proceed with the auction.
Invoking its powers under Article 144 of the Constitution that mandates all authorities to act in aid of the SC, the bench said, “The official liquidator must complete the exercise of valuation within 10 days and send a report to the apex court. We are sure all shall work in harmony to comply with the directions passed by this court.”
The SC also directed Roy to remain present in the court on April 27 at 2 pm and said it would decide whether he was entitled to bail or should be sent to jail. The bench warned Roy that he should “not play truant with the contents of the affidavit.”