New Delhi, 20 May-2014, Prabhati Nayak Mishra(PTI): Sahara group chief Subrata Roy will remain in jail as the newly constituted bench of Supreme Court on Monday declined his plea to release him from jail but asked him to bring a “logically acceptable, specific proposal” to raise Rs10,000 crore to avail bail.
A bench of justices TS Thakur and AK Sikri indicated to “partially” lift the embargo on operating the bank accounts and enabling the company to sell assets to generate Rs5000 crore in cash and another Rs5000 crore by way of bank guarantee.
It heard Roy’s counsel A M Singhvi’s submissions seeking 60 days time to arrange the amount demanded by the court.
The bench, which also refused to convert Roy’s judicial custody into house arrest in Lucknow till the amount was deposited, said “We understand your difficulty. Come with a proposal which is logically acceptable to us.”
Seeking the court to lift restrictions on selling of the properties, Sahara counsel said that “if he (Roy) did not raise the required money, he is prepared to go back to jail voluntarily.” But unless he is out of prison, he will not be able to sell the properties and get bank guarantees. “It is a classic case of vicious circle,” Singhvi said.
The lawyer submitted that Sahara group has only Rs2,500 crore in liquid cash in the banks and offered to sale some of the properties including Aamby Valley in Pune, Ahmedabad and Bahraich. He told the court that the company is also ready to sell three hotels in London and New York.
To this submission, the bench told the counsel that it will allow only a portion to sale to raise Rs2,500 core but Sahara counsel was not ready and said he will come out with a fresh proposal after taking instruction from his client.
When Sahara said it had earlier refunded Rs17,000 crore, the court asked “how could you generate the huge amount overnight?… Was the money stashed in a bank or kept in gunny bags.”
On November 21 last year, the predecessor bench had ordered Sahara group not to part with their properties including the housing projects across the country.
Appearing for one of the Sahara directors, counsel Rajiv Dhavan sought the court to release Roy on bail otherwise it is difficult to sale the properties.
He referred to the judgment in which some remarks were made against the lawyers passed by the predecessor bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan (retired on May 14) and J S Khehar (recused from hearing the case) and said Sahara counsel never intended to insult the previous bench. He was apologetic to the court and said “there was never any intention to insult the judges or to denigrate the dignity of court. Can somebody be sent to jail without following procedure in a contempt case.”
Roy and two of his directors are presently in jail since March 4 for their repeated failure to comply with court’s orders.
65-year-old Roy and his directors have failed to comply with the court’s order in a case against the company for non-refund of over Rs20,000 crore to depositors.
Although Roy was granted bail by the bench on March 26 but he was asked to pay Rs 10,000 crore to to come out of jail.
On May 6, a bench had rejected Roy’s plea against his arrest order passed by the same bench on March 4.The bench in a strongly-worded Judgment had come down heavily on the Group for ‘systematically’ frustrating and flouting all its orders with impunity on refunding investors’ money.
It had said the group “adopted a demeanour of defiance constituting a rebellious behaviour, not amenable to the rule of law” and justified its decision to send Roy along with two promoters of two Sahara companies to jail.