Supreme Court gives green signal for Aamby Valley auction
The apex court on Tuesday gave its nod to the official liquidator appointed by it to initiate proceedings for auctioning of Sahara’s Aamby Valley, worth more than Rs. 40,000 crore by inviting bidders for the property.
Aamby Valley is spread over 10,000 hectares in Pune district. In January 2012, Sahara valued the property at Rs 34,000 crore but the liquidator has pegged its worth at Rs 43,000 crore.
A bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice A K Sikri directed the liquidator to invite bidders by publishing sale notice in newspapers across the world. As per the last order, the group was asked to deposit Rs. 552 crore by July 15 but the company paid only Rs. 247 crore. The bench decided to go the whole hog to fetch over Rs 9,000 crore which is still to be paid by the corporate house to market regulator SEBI.
The liquidator told the bench that notice had to be published across the world to invite bidders in view of the high worth of the property and also informed the court that the whole exercise of auctioning would take around five months. The court approved the sale notice prepared by the liquidator and allowed him to go ahead with the auction process by inviting bidders and checking their credentials.
In its order, the bench said “The official liquidator shall publish the sale notice as given by him and the notice shall be published on August 14. The steps which are required to be taken for the publication of the sale notice are allowed. The amount that is required for publication shall be given from SEBI’s Sahara account.”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal strongly opposed the Supreme Court’s decision to auction the property and pleaded the court to grant 18 months’ time to deposit the entire amount. He pleaded that the group should be allowed to sell the property after developing it.
But the bench turned down his plea and directed initiation of auction process. It, however, granted one last opportunity to the Sahara Group to save the property by depositing Rs 1,500 crore by September 7. The court indicated that it might consider stalling the auction only after the amount was deposited.
Sensing that the bench was not going to defer the auction process, advocate Sibal pleaded for “mercy” and sought its indulgence to grant time till October to deposit the amount. The court, however, refused to accede to his submission. “Indulgence has the propensity to give rise to procrastination which is the murderer of justice. Therefore, we are disposed to think that the first two steps for sale of Ambey Valley project shall be undertaken within this time and for the same we approve the draft sale notice submitted by the official liquidator and direct him that he shall take the first two steps,” the court said.