The Supreme Court on Tuesday sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy and two directors of his company to judicial custody until they presented a concrete proposal to return the balance of `20,000 crore collected from investors.
Two Sahara companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corp and Sahara Housing Investment Corp-- had mobilised the money through optionally fully-convertible debentures.
At the beginning of the hearing, Roy apologised with folded hands for not complying with its orders. “Ours is a beautiful human story. If you know it, you will love us,” the Sahara chief told the court, which retorted: “We will love it if you obey our orders and make the payment.”
Roy sought more time for refunding the money to investors. “I have faith in you. Punish me if I don’t comply with your order,” Roy submitted with folded hands before the Bench. The Group asked the court to accept its assurance “in the best interest of Sahara’s crores of existing investors and to protect the livelihoods of 12 lakh workers/employees”.
The Bench told Roy: “You can’t make payment in cash as it is contrary to law. You have to make payment through demand draft or cheque.” “You pushed us to the corner. Had you been serious, this position would not have arisen,” the court went on.
At one stage, when Roy told the Bench “I am giving an assurance that I will pay the money to you”, Justice Khehar shot back: “We don’t need anything from you.” Roy immediately apologised saying it was a slip of the tongue.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Roy, proposed that the Group would furnish bank guarantees for Rs 22,500 crore, while Sebi can immediately proceed with the sale of properties whose titles had already been handed over by the Group.
“We are not happy with the proposal. No concrete proposal has come up so far. There is no bank guarantee. All of them except Vandana Bhargava will be in custody in Delhi,” the bench that also had Justice K S Radhakrishnan said. The court said the concession to Bhargava was being extended “because she is a woman director, and also to enable the contemnors to be in a position to propose an acceptable solution for execution of our orders, by coordinating with the detenues”.
The court said it would hear Roy’s plea on March 11 and that the “contemnors have maintained an unreasonable stand throughout the proceedings before the Sebi, the Securities Appellate Tribunal), High Court and even before this court”.
The court further said that “maintaining investors’ confidence requires market integrity and market abuse is a serious financial crime which undermines the very financial structure of this country and will create imbalance in wealth between haves and have nots”.
Roy’s Tihar Menu
Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who was on Tuesday remanded in judicial custody till March 11 by the Supreme Court, had a taste of the food served to the inmates of Tihar prison, besides stretching out on the floor of his prison cell like the ordinary prisoners.
However,owing to security reasons the officials at Asia’s largest prison refused to disclose the specific details of Roy’s incarceration.
“He can be lodged in Jail No. 1, 2 or 3 of Tihar. As it is a security issue, I can’t reveal it. Unlike other jails, where prisoners are categorised under A, B or C category, we don’t have such special class. So, he will be kept as an ordinary prisoner,” said Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta.
“His medical condition is stated to be normal. Roy will be kept in Tihar like ordinary prisoners. Two bed sheets and four blankets will be given to him. Only three people will be allowed to meet him, twice weekly,” he said.
Sebi - Sahara Case - Timeline