Sahara Chief Subrata Roy may have to remain in jail for at least another week because his lawyers say they are finding it difficult to immediately mobilise Rs 10,000 crores needed to get him and two directors out on bail.
A day after the apex court imposed a condition that Roy will be freed on bail only if he pays Rs.10,000 crore out of which Rs 5,000 crore has to be in bank guarantee, his lawyers said providing a guarantee of this size with lower margin cash backed by assets will take at least three months.
65-year old Roy, who has been in Tihar jail for the last 22 days since March 4, submitted that the apex court's order for detaining him for not paying Rs 20,000 of investors money with SEBI is illegal and unconstitutional and sought quashing of the order.
A bunch of senior advocates headed by Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Roy and the group, told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, which had passed detention order, that it's approach is "biased" and it should not hear the petition challenging the order.
"It is the gravest mistake of law committed by any court in the country. I wish to submit with greatest respect that there is an error of law," Jethmalani said.
"Has any person been sent jail without knowing what crime he has committed and under what provision he has been punished," he said while contending that Roy was sent to jail while the contempt petition against him was still pending.
He said it is unconstitutional to send a man behind bars for not paying the money and also questioned the order putting a condition of paying Rs 10,000 crore for getting interim bail.
"I appeal to you on behalf of all members of bar on this side to please consider our plea. I have not seen during long years of my practice that court ordered paying Rs 10,000 crore for getting bail," he said.
"If my client has an apprehension of prejudice then that should be respected. I appeal that lordships should not decide the matter," he said seeking recusal of the bench.
Senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan also raised similar plea and said that there has been error committed by the court which must be rectified.
"Moments come very rarely when we have to say that lordship has committed mistake. It is very rarely that we have told the bench that you have gone terribly wrong," he said.
"The order was excess of jurisdiction as your lordships have no power to send him to jail during the pendency of the contempt petition. No offences were made, no process was followed and there was constitutional violation. Your lordships order was void and it must be quashed," he said.
SEBI, however opposed the stand taken by Roy's counsel, saying that his petition is not maintainable. The arguments remained inconclusive and it will resume on April 3.
Along with the Group's other two Directors Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, Roy has been in judicial custody since March 4 for not abiding by the apex court's order for depositing Rs 20,000 crore of investors money with SEBI.
Roy questioned the constitutional validity of the detention order saying it was passed after an "illusionary" hearing.
"The petitioner submits that the impugned order made after such illusionary hearing is in total defiance of the rules framed under the Constitution and is gross violation of principle of natural justice," he said in his petition.
"The Bench of this Court without compliance with law and principles of natural justice has incarcerated him under a law which does not exist and without following the ordinary cannons of natural justice.