The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed a fresh auction of the Sahara Group’s Aamby Valley city project in Pune district. The bench said the auction must start on December 1 and be completed within eight weeks.
The Sahara Group has been embroiled in a lengthy court battle with the Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, over a case involving a Rs 24,000-crore refund to investors.
In October, Sebi told the court that the earlier attempt to auction the property had failed and no bidder had come forward because Sahara chief Subrata Roy and other directors of the company tried to had obstruct the sale.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court warned Roy about interfering with the auction again and said he will be jailed if he tried to obstruct the sale of Aamby Valley, The Times of India reported. The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices Ranjan Gogoi and AK Sikri also ordered the Bombay High Court’s official receiver to take control of and manage the property, which is an integrated hill city township spread over 10,000 hectares near Lonavla.
The case so far
On February 6, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to attach Aamby Valley to recover dues from Sahara. The property is worth more than Rs 39,000 crore.
The court extended Roy’s parole after the company deposited Rs 600 crore with Sebi. Sahara acknowledged that it owed Rs 14,000 crore as principal money to Sebi, but the top court denied its offer to clear the dues by July 2019.
On August 9, Sahara’s advocate Kapil Sibal requested the Supreme Court to stay the auction, saying the company would pay dues worth Rs 1,500 crore. The court, however, said it did not believe Sahara would pay up, and that it would pass an “appropriate order” if the amount was paid by September 7.
On August 14, the Bombay High Court had set the prime property’s reserve price – the minimum price to sell an item at an auction – at Rs 37,392 crore.
The auction, however, has yet to take place.