The Supreme Court was irked when SEBI claimed that the group had al­legedly ob­structed the auc­tion­ing process by writ­ing a let­ter to the Pune po­lice, rais­ing the is­sue of law and or­der at the prime prop­erty

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE - MPOST BU­REAU

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thurs­day took strong ex­cep­tion to the Sa­hara Group al­legedly ob­struct­ing the auc­tion­ing process of Aamby Val­ley and warned that any­body cre­at­ing im­ped­i­ments would be li­able for con­tempt and may be "sent to jail".

The apex court was irked when SEBI claimed that the group had al­legedly ob­structed the auc­tion­ing process by writ­ing a let­ter to the Pune po­lice rais­ing the is­sue of law and or­der at the prime prop­erty.

Tak­ing note of SEBI'S al­le­ga­tion in this re­gard, a bench headed by Jus­tice Di­pak Misra said the group could not have en­tered into a com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Pune's Su­per­in­ten­dent of the Po­lice (Ru­ral) on the is­sue since the auc­tion has been or­dered by the top court.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate Arvind Datar, ap­pear­ing for Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Board of In­dia (SEBI), claimed be­fore the bench that the Septem­ber 28 com­mu­ni­ca­tion, ad­dressed by the group to the Pune po­lice re­gard­ing law and or­der sit­u­a­tion at Aamby val­ley, has stalled the on­go­ing auc­tion process.

"It is sub­mit­ted by Mr Datar that as a con­se­quence of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the po­lice has taken cus­tody of the prop­erty.

If it is so, we di­rect the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice, Ma­ha­rash­tra, to see to it that the prop­erty is handed over to the of­fi­cial liq­uida­tor (of the Bom­bay High Court) within 48 hours," the bench, also com­pris­ing Jus­tices Ran­jan Go­goi and A K Sikri, said.

"If any im­ped­i­ment is cre­ated by any­one, he shall be li­able for con­tempt of this court and may be sent to jail," it said. The pun­ish­ment for con­tempt is up to six months of sim­ple im­pris­on­ment.

Later how­ever, the apex court clar­i­fied that it was not ini­ti­at­ing any con­tempt ac­tion at this stage.

SEBI al­leged that the po­lice has taken cus­tody of the prop­erty due to which no bid­der was will­ing to take part in the auc­tion process.

"You go ahead with the auc­tion," the bench said.

SEBI also said the let­ter was also sent to the ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary and no bid­der was com­ing for­ward to bid for the prop­erty as the po­lice, while tak­ing note of the let­ter, has taken its cus­tody.

Mean­while, se­nior ad­vo­cate Mukul Ro­hatgi, rep­re­sent­ing the group, ob­jected to th­ese sub­mis­sions, say­ing "com­pletely wrong state­ments are made to prej­u­dice the court".

"No bid­der has come...i (group) am not stand­ing in the way. I have not halted any­thing and have not given prop­erty to the po­lice," he said.

"The of­fi­cial liq­uida­tor shall pro­ceed with the auc­tion un­der the di­rect su­per­vi­sion of the com­pany judge. That apart, the of­fi­cial liq­uida­tor shall also take guid­ance from Jus­tice A S Oka, a sit­ting judge of the Bom­bay High Court," the bench said.

"The com­pany judge and Jus­tice A S Oka shall make joint en­deav­our so that the auc­tion process which is to com­mence from a par­tic­u­lar stage, shall con­tinue and be over," it said and posted the mat­ter for hear­ing on Novem­ber 23.

The court asked the con­cerned po­lice to ren­der req­ui­site as­sis­tance in hold­ing of auc­tion as and when di­rected by the com­pany judge in con­sul­ta­tion with Jus­tice Oka.

As per the let­ter placed by Datar be­fore the court, the group had said there was a strong pos­si­bil­ity of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing law and or­der sit­u­a­tion in Aamby Val­ley city and had re­quested po­lice to take ur­gent and most suit­able mea­sures by de­ploy­ing ad­e­quate force there.

The top court was hear­ing the SEBI'S plea seek­ing con­tempt ac­tion against the Sa­hara group for al­legedly ob­struct­ing the auc­tion­ing process of Aamby Val­ley.

In its plea, the SEBI has al­leged "wil­ful and de­lib­er­ate at­tempt" on Sa­hara's part "by adopt­ing a sub­terfuge to cause in­ter­fer­ence with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, es­pe­cially in a court di­rected and mon­i­tored auc­tion sale of the Aamby Val­ley prop­erty un­der var­i­ous or­ders of the apex court."

On Au­gust 10, the apex court had re­jected Sa­hara chief Subrata Roy's plea to put on hold the auc­tion process.

It had said that the auc­tion process would pro­ceed as per sched­ule and if Rs 1,500 crore is paid by Roy in the SEBI- Sa­hara re­fund ac­count by Septem­ber 7, then it may pass an ap­pro­pri­ate or­der.

The Sa­hara Group had ear­lier sought 18 months time to re­pay around Rs 9,000 crore bal­ance of the prin­ci­pal amount of Rs 24,000 crore.

Roy, who has spent al­most two years in jail, has been on pa­role since May 6 last year. The pa­role was granted the first time to en­able him at­tend the funeral of his mother. It has been ex­tended since then.

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