The Supreme Court ordered on Monday that the prime real-estate project of the Sahara group, Aamby Valley, would be attached to ensure the recovery of Rs 14,000 crore the company owes to duped investors.
The order came from a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra that noted Sahara’s proposed payment plan extending till July 2019 was too long and said the court would auction the properties to recover the amount. Aamby Valley’s declared worth is Rs 39,000 crore.
The bench asked Sahara to submit a list of its unencumbered properties by February 20 so that it could decide to auction them. The company has to be forced to expedite the payment, the bench said, disapproving the current practice of paying in installments. The bench has fixed February 27 to hear the matter again.
Sahara’s counsel Kapil Sibal urged the bench not to pass the attatchment order. “What is the hurry? There is no bank asking for money. There are no investors asking for money,” he asked the court and handed over the income-tax appellate tribunal order to claim the company had already refunded 85% of the investors.
This is the first time Sahara produced the record. Sibal said the tribunal delivered the judgement after adequate verification. He questioned the August 31, 2012 verdict that ordered Sahara to refund the money it collected from investors under its two financial schemes, declared illegal by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
But, the bench was not convinced. “We are not going to revisit the order. There is a judicial finding against you and we are not here to review the order,” the bench said, brushing aside his defence.
Sahara has so far paid a little over Rs 11,000 crore. In a proposal before the top court, it wanted time till July 2019 to deposit a balance of Rs 14,779 crore with SEBI.
Following the last order, the company deposited on Monday, a little over Rs 600 crore with the market regulator. The company’s boss Subrata Roy would, however, continue to be on parole.
In March 2014, the top court had sent to jail after he failed to appear in response to its summoning order. He was given parole last year in May after his mother passed away. Since then the company has been depositing money with the SEBI to ensure he remained out of jail.