February 7, 2017 2:35:05 am
IN a setback to the Sahara group and its chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court Monday ordered attachment of its prime property worth Rs 39,000 crore at Aamby Valley in Pune for realising money to be paid to investors.
A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra said the property, developed into a sprawling township near Lonavala, shall remain in the custody of the court to ensure that the group expeditiously raises money to refund to investors.
“The property situated at Aamby Valley City, Pune, should be attached and, accordingly, it is so ordered. The interim arrangement shall remain in force till the next date of hearing,” directed the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri.
The bench said Roy could remain out in parole till the next date of hearing.
The court overruled objections of senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sahara and Roy, that the court has previously accepted their request not to attach Aamby Valley because that was a running business and a source of generating revenue.
“You either speed up the process of depositing money or we will have to attach your properties and put them up for auction. You have left us with no option but to pass such orders,” observed the bench as Sibal pleaded the bench to give them time till July 2019 to make the payment of the principal amount. The group has to deposit another Rs 14,000 crore to meet the shortfall of the principal amount, around Rs 25,000 crore, that it was ordered to pay by an order in August 2012.
The court also asked Sahara to provide it by February 27 a list of unencumbered properties which could be auctioned to realise the remaining Rs 14,000 crore. It made clear that Sahara and Roy would get to argue on correctness of any order only after they clear the payments.
“When the money comes, we will grant you the time to argue. It is a condition precedent that we will hear you only after you deposit the money,” said the bench, as Sibal contended that he required two hours to demonstrate the ex-facie errors in the main judgment of the court.
The senior counsel claimed that there was now an order by Income Tax authorities to corroborate that at least 87 per cent of the investors were found to be genuine during verification.
When Sibal sought to argue as to what would happen to the remaining money when SEBI could disburse only Rs 50 crore in the last two years, the bench retorted: “The fundamental question is that the court found that the money collected by you from XYZ etc was in violation of the rule..It is a question of a core verdict and you deposit the money first.”
SEBI counsel Pratap Venu-gopal submitted that interest on the principal amount till October 31, 2016, would lead to a liability of Rs 47,669 crore on Sahara group, which deposited over Rs 600 crore Monday in accordance with the January 12 order.
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