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Will auction Aamby Valley if money not deposited, SC tells Sahara

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court said it will be "compelled" to auction its property valued at Rs.39,000 crore at Aamby Valley in Pune if the Sahara Group fails to deposit Rs.5092.60 crore in SEBI-Sahara refund account by 17 April in pursuance of its order.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra told the group that no extension of time would be granted for depositing the amount as it had assured the court that it would pay the money by 17 April.

"No extension of time shall be granted. Sahara Group must deposit the money on time otherwise Aamby Valley will be auctioned," the bench told the counsel representing the group.

The observation came when the lawyer mentioned an interim plea seeking extension of time for depositing the money in the SEBI-Sahara refund account.

"Whatever you do, we had told you that a substantial amount must come, otherwise we will be compelled to put up Aamby Valley for auction," the bench said.

"What matters is the money coming in the kitty," it said.

On 28 February, the apex court had said that "in case, the substantial amount is deposited this court may think of extending the time, otherwise appropriate direction shall be issued.” 

The court had last month directed an international real estate firm, which had shown willingness to buy Sahara's stake in New York-based Plaza Hotel for $550 million, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account instead of the apex court registry to show its bonafides.

The top court had earlier directed attachment of Sahara Group's prime property for realisation of money to be paid to its investors. It had also asked the group to provide it within two weeks the list of "unencumbered properties" which can be put for public auction to realise the remaining over Rs 14,000 crore of the principal amount of around Rs 24,000 crore that has to be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account for refunding the investors.

The court from time to time had been asking Sahara chief Subrata Roy to deposit sufficient money in the refund account to remain out of jail and warned that failure to do so would result in his return to prison.

It had on 6 May 2016, granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on 4 March 2014.

Besides Roy, two other directors ~ Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary ~ were arrested for failure of the group's two companies, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) , to comply with the court's 31 August 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.