The official receiver of the Bombay High Court, on January 5, 2018, moved the Supreme Court seeking its directions, contending that it was finding it difficult to maintain the Sahara Group’s Aamby Valley properties, which are to be auctioned. The apex court, on November 23, 2017, had taken note of the apprehension that there could be a possibility of encroachment and had directed the official receiver of the high court, to act as the custodian of Aamby Valley properties till the conclusion of the auction.
The plea was mentioned by senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae, before a bench comprising chief justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, which said it will look into the matter and fix a date of hearing. Naphade said that the receiver has sought some directions with regard to Aamby Valley properties, as it was finding it difficult to maintain them.
Earlier, the apex court had granted liberty to two Bombay High Court judges, to adopt procedures to facilitate the auctioning of Sahara’s prized Aamby Valley properties and directed the official liquidator not to allow any obstruction in the process. A special top court bench, comprising the chief justice and justices Ranjan Gogoi and AK Sikri, had earlier warned Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy, facing contempt proceedings, that it may send him to jail again, following a submission by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) that there was confusion, with regard to the title or ownership of some of the properties in Aamby Valley.
The Sahara Group had earlier sought 18 months, to repay around Rs 9,000 crores balance, of the principal amount of Rs 24,000 crores. The court had directed that a sum of Rs 84 lakhs be released in favour of the Bombay High Court’s official liquidator (OL), who has been entrusted with the task of conducting the auctioning process, for ‘publication or advertisement’. The bench had also warned the OL that there should not be any hindrance to the auctioning process and posted the matter for hearing in the first week of February 2018.
Earlier, the apex court had taken strong exception to the Sahara Group allegedly obstructing the auctioning process of Aamby Valley and warned that anyone indulging in such an act, would be held liable for contempt and ‘sent to jail’. The apex court was irked when the SEBI claimed that the Group had allegedly obstructed the process, by writing a letter to the Pune police, raising the issue of law and order at the prime property.
On August 10, 2017, the apex court had rejected Sahara chief Subrata Roy’s plea, to put on hold the auction process. Roy, who has spent almost two years in jail, has been on parole since May 6, 2017. The parole was granted the first time, to enable him attend the funeral of his mother. It has been extended since then.
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 August 31, 2012 order, to return Rs 24,000 crores to their investors.