The Supreme Court Monday gave Sahara three more months to raise Rs 10,000 crore for the release of its chief Subrata Roy who has been in jail for more than a year now.
A bench headed by justice TS Thakur accepted the media-to-finance conglomerate’s plea for more time after the firm said it was exploring various options, including selling a part of its Aamby Valley township outside Mumbai. Sahara has made several unsuccessful attempts to raise the bail money.
“We give you a last opportunity to dispose of properties and raise money for bail,” justice Thakur said. Failure to come up with a proposal would result in the appointment of a receiver for auctioning of assets, the court said.
Roy has been in Delhi’s Tihar Jail since March 4, 2014 after he failed to appear at a hearing in a long-running battle with the Securities Exchange Board of India.
Appearing for Sahara, advocate Kapil Sibal said the company had received a loan of 900 million euros (Rs 6,102 crore) from Spain’s BBVA bank. It would be used to replace a loan from Bank of China for purchase of three hotels -- Grosvenor House in London and the New York Plaza and Dream Downtown, New York.
“This court permits Saharas to take the proposal to next level,” the court said.
Early in March, Bank of China, the Indian firm’s single-largest creditor, put Grosvenor Hotel on sale after Sahara defaulted on loan. In the court, Sahara rejected Mirach Capital’s offer to purchase the hotels. Sahara had in February called off a deal with the Miami-based NRI family-owned debt fund after it described as fake a Bank of America letter showing Mirach had enough funds for a $2-billion deal.
Appearing for Mirach, senior advocate P Chidambaram said: “I have instructions to say we have an offer to buy out all the three hotels.” The court, however, asked Mirach to file an affidavit and its offer in a sealed envelope.
Mirach had on March 17 said it was filing a $400 million defamation suit against Sahara.
The court also allowed Sahara to sell 10 more properties across the country, in addition to the nine it is already permitted to sell, to raise funds. It also permitted Roy use of a makeshift office inside the jail to finalise the deals.
Sahara told the court that it would pay the remaining amount once Roy was out of jail. “You are finding it tough to raise Rs 10,000 crore. We are wondering you have to pay Rs 30,000 crore. How will you do it?” the court said. Sahara has to refund millions of depositors who invested in its financial schemes in violation of Sebi rules.