Sahara realty firms' intentions shady: SC
The Supreme Court Monday lashed out at Sahara group's real estate companies saying their intentions are "shady" in the matter of returning the investors' money mopped up through debentures and gave them seven days to pay up.
"You have no intention of returning (the investors' money). Your intentions are shady," said the apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice J. Chelameswar.
Chief Justice Kabir said that they were giving them seven days' time to deposit the money. "What is the point of going through legalese. How would the poor get back the money."
"Don't try to defend your conduct. It is unjustified. Unfortunately, you are doing so," the court said.
The Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation had challenged in the court an order issued by the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT).
Sahara companies' senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam said that he needed to take instructions as the court asked him if the companies were interested in refunding the investors' money.
"Are you interested to pay or not. We are extending the time even if you are not entitled to," the court said.
As Subramaniam sought to give some background, the court said: "Don't give us the background. You did default. When was the last date (of refund). What about the money. What did you do (with it)."
When Subramanium sought to explain the position of the two real estate companies, the court said that "you are not supposed to interpret the court's order but abide by it".
The Sahara real estate companies have challenged the SAT order rejecting their plea to direct its registrar to accept a pay order of Rs.5,120 crore. The pay order was meant to be deposited with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) by Nov 30 for the refund to investors.
Senior counsel Arvind Datar, appearing for the market regulator, told the court that the companies had not deposited any money despite the court's direction.
The SEBI's counsel told the court that the Sahara companies had invested the money in various projects across 63 cities and they were claiming that "they have refunded everything (the investors money) except Rs.5,000 crore".
Datar told the court that the SEBI filed a contempt petition that the Sahara group of companies had not complied with the apex court order. "They have to pay Rs.17,000 crore plus 15 percent interest thereon," Datar told the court.
The court Aug 31 directed the companies to return to investors Rs.17,400 crore with 15 percent interest that they had collected through optionally fully convertible debentures in 2008 and 2009.
The court had said that the refund would be done "within a period of three months from today, which shall be deposited in a nationalised bank bearing the maximum rate of interest".
The court had appointed former apex court judge B.N. Agarwal to "oversee whether directions issued by the court are properly and effectively complied with".