The Supreme Court has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to start the process of selling some of embattled conglomerate Sahara's real estate assets in the country to refund millions of investors, lawyers said on Tuesday.

Sahara, a household name in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team, has major hotels overseas including the Plaza in New York and the Grosvenor House in London, besides vast real estate assets in India.

File photo of Subrata Roy | Source: Reuters

Its founder Subrata Roy was arrested in March 2014 after the company failed to comply with a court order to refund money raised from millions of small investors by selling them bonds later ruled to be illegal.

The country's top court in June last year said the group needed to repay the entire Rs 36,000 crore ($5.4 billion) the court says it owes investors in illegal bonds.