Stating that the Sahara Group was playing “hide and seek” and could not be trusted, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the company to hand over the title deeds of its properties worth Rs 20,000 crore to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) within three weeks for refunding its around 3 crore investors.
The bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar also warned the company that failure to comply would mean that its head, Subrata Roy, and other directors would not be allowed to leave the country without its permission.
“You have driven everybody around... There cannot be any escape now and the money has to be repaid,” said the court, directing Sahara to also hand over the valuation reports of its properties to Sebi.
“We cannot trust you anymore... too much hide and seek has already taken place,” said the bench. “If Sahara group doesn’t hand over the title deeds within three weeks, then Subrata Roy and other directors will not be allowed to leave the country,” it added.
The bench, however, assured Sahara that its interests would be protected if it repaid its investors.
The court also asked Sebi to examine Sahara’s title deeds and “find out its worth”. Sahara Group’s counsel assured the bench that its companies would adduce ownership certificates.
Earlier, Roy’s counsel, C A Sundaram, pleaded that his reputation and business would be hit. He submitted that he would be “finished” if had to pay the amount in cash and the company would liquidate. Giving details of properties, he submitted that there were over 30,000 title deeds. The next hearing has been set for November 20.
The court was hearing three contempt petitions filed by Sebi against Roy, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation, Sahara India Housing Investment Corporation, and their directors.
Sahara and Sebi are locked in a legal battle over refund of Rs 24,000 crore to the company’s investors, raised through “illegally” floated debentures. On August 31 last year, the court had directed the Sahara Group to refund Rs 24,000 crore to its investors. The group handed over a draft of Rs 5,120 crore to Sebi in December.
On the last date of hearing, the court had asked Sahara and Sebi to find a mechanism for refunding the remaining amount of about Rs 19,000 crore. The Sahara Group had agreed to pledge its immovable properties as security, but Sebi questioned