New Delhi, July 3 :
The Supreme Court Thursday asked market regulator SEBI to respond to Sahara group’s plead to permit it to sell its three overseas hotels to mobilise Rs.10,000 crore as a part repayment of investors money raised by its two companies – a condition for the release of jailed group chief Subrata Roy and two directors.
A bench of Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice A.K.Sikri also asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to respond to Roy’s plea to be released from custody so that he could directly deal with the international transactions for the sale of three hotels – Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the New York Plaza and Dream New York hotels in New York.
The application said that Roy and two other directors be released from judicial custody for 40 days – time required to complete the sale of three hotels so that Sahara could comply with the court’s directions.
The court asked SEBI to suggest safeguards so that sale of three hotels, if permitted, would be “neat, clean and transparent without any underhand dealings”.
The court has directed two Sahara companies – Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited (SHICL) – to deposit Rs.10,000 crore (Rs.5,000 crore in cash and Rs.5,000 crore in bank guarantee) as a part payment of Rs.24,000 crore it had collected from investors through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) in 2008 and 2009.
Roy and two other Sahara directors – Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary – are in judicial custody since March 4 for the failure of SIRECL and SHICL to comply with apex court’s Aug 31, 2012 and Dec 5, 2012, order to return investors money.
As Sahara sought the court’s nod for selling its three prestigious overseas hotels, the court asked why it was not selling its nine properties that were released by its June 4 order.
The court said its concern was that the sale of three hotels would take care of Rs. 10,000 crores but what would be there to secure the larger burden as total amount of investors money has gone, according to SEBI, upto Rs.38,000 crore.
The court was told that nine properties that court had released from their frozen status June 4 were expected to fetch about Rs.4,200 crores. “It may get this much money or may be less say Rs. 3,000 crore,” said senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan who appeared for Roy.
He said that the sale of three overseas properties would be quicker and that is needed to secure their release. The court was told that the process for the sale of these three hotels has already started and some distance has been covered.
The court was told that Bank of China that gave the loan to purchase these properties has also given its nod for their sale.