SC may Lift Embargo on Sahara Accounts to Let Co Raise Money
The Supreme Court on Monday hinted at lifting a court-imposed embargo on bank accounts and assets to permit Sahara to raise .` 5,000 crore in cash and another .` 5,000 crore by way of a bank guarantee to secure the release of chairman Subroto Roy, but rejected a plea to order his immediate release before any payments.
A new bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and AK Sikri, which shut the door firmly on a plea by Sahara to first release Roy, to help the company raise .` 10,000 crore. Roy has been imprisoned since March 4, 2014, after Sahara failed to pay .` 24,000 crore to Sebi as directed by the top court in an order passed on August 31, 2012.
The bench now hearing the case was constituted after the retirement of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and recusal of Justice JS Khehar from the case.
On Monday, Sahara lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought Roy’s release and assured the top court that the amount would be deposited with 60 days of his release, but the court wouldn’t hear of it. “No one is willing to buy if I am in jail,” Singhvi said. “I can’t stay inside endlessly till I produce the amount,” he said, seeking a 60-day window for Roy to raise the money. “I will go back to jail if I can’t pay in 60 days.”
“That is not the spirit of the court order,” Justice Thakur said rejecting his proposal, referring to the earlier bench’s order that Roy would have to pay .` 10,000 crore before he could be released. The new bench also rejected a plea for placing Roy under house arrest in either Lucknow or Mumbai, till that amount was paid.
“This stalemate helps no one, definitely not the depositor. Make a finite proposal which is logically acceptable,” the bench said, before listing the issue again for deliberations next week. Roy is stuck in Tihar Jail till then. During court proceedings, Sahara offered to pay .` 3,000 crore lying in its accounts within five to seven days of lifting of the freeze on its accounts. It also offered to sell some Amby Valley properties, a Sahara real estate project, to raise the remaining .` 2,000 crore and secure a .` 5,000-crore bank guarantee. But the bench wanted Sahara to sell only one property for the time being to raise .` 2,000 crore by way of cash to add to the .` 3,000 crore held in its accounts.
The top court also wanted Sahara to secure the .` 5,000-crore bank guarantee by mortgaging its properties, instead of selling it outright. The bench questioned the valuation of the assets listed by Sahara as part of its efforts to raise the .` 10,000 crore. “This will be in a way a distress sale,” the bench observed, hinting that the properties may not fetch the expected values. “How do you propose then to raise the balance (of the .` 37,000-crore odd dues)?” Sahara then claimed this list of 70 properties submitted to the top court was not “exhaustive”. The bench also sought to know in detail the mode of disposal. “Will it be auction or by way of negotiations? What will be the reserve price?”
New bench comprising Justices TS Thakur & AK Sikri shut the door firmly on a plea by Sahara to first release Roy to help co raise 10kcr