Sahara group staff offer to collect Rs 5,000 cr for Subrata Roy's release

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 29 2014, 00:32am hrs
SaharaMoney for Subrata Roy's release has been proposed to be collected in lieu of shares in Saharayn e-Multipurpose Society Ltd. PTI
In a fresh dramatic twist to the Sebi-Sahara saga, an innovative idea was today floated for collection of at least Rs 1 lakh each from Sahara employees and 'well-wishers' to garner at least Rs 5,000 crore and secure group chief Subrata Roy's release from Tihar Jail.

The money has been proposed to be collected in lieu of shares in Saharayn e-Multipurpose Society Ltd, which would be alloted to each contributing employee of the entertainment-to retail business conglomerate, which claims to have a workforce of over 11 lakh salaried and field workers.

The contribution 'appeal' was made through a one-page letter signed by directors of this Society and 'associates' of the group and asked each employee of the Sahara India Pariwar and their well-wishers to contribute Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2 lakh, Rs 3 lakh or even more as per their wish and capacity.

When contacted, a senior Sahara official clarified that the letter has not been issued by Subrata Roy or by the management and "it is only an emotional initiative from people in reaction to prevailing situation".

He said that this should not be construed as Sahara group or the management asking its workers to make any contribution.

"As Saharasri (the name by which Roy is called in the group) has build this organisation as Pariwar or family, lots of such letters are coming from through out the country. Hope this unique sentiment for the chief guardian of our Pariwar would be understood," he added.

Roy, 65, has been in Tihar jail since March 4 and the Supreme Court earlier this month proposed a conditional interim bail for him asking the group to deposit Rs 10,000 crore including Rs 5,000 crore as bank guarantee.

However, the group's lawyers informed the court yesterday that they were finding it difficult to immediately mobilise such a large amount to get Roy and two directors out on bail.

The lawyers also submitted that the apex court's order for detaining Roy for not paying Rs 20,000 crore of investors money with SEBI was illegal and unconstitutional and sought quashing of this order.

Appearing for Roy and the group, advocates also told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, which had passed detention order, that its approach is "biased" and it should not hear the petition challenging the order.

Sahara group, which says that it has already refunded bulk of the money due to investors in the Sebi case, claims to have total networth of over Rs 68,000 crore and assets totalling more than Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

A Sahara lawyer yesterday said that an embargo has been imposed on sale of assets, while bank accounts of entire Sahara Group have already been frozen by Sebi.

"Further, the title deeds of assets having value over Rs 20,000 crore are lying with Sebi only. If case by case the court allows to sell assets, it will be a distress sale which would not fetch more than 20-25 per cent of the real value of the asset. Moreover, money from the sale of bigger assets will only come in long term installments in view of Indian financial strength," he had said in a statement.

Talking about the contributions made by the Sahara India Pariwar's chief guardian Subrata Roy Sahara, the appeal said that a "profitable scheme" is being proposed by Saharayn E-Multipurpose Society Ltd for the workers, associates and well-wishers of the group.

It also called for support from all workers of the group in the current scenario, when the Supreme Court had ordered freeze on sale of assets and bank accounts of the group.

Even if the freeze order is removed, these assets would not fetch right valuation, it added, while requesting all employees and field workers of the group to make their contribution.

Officials at the group, on the other hand said that Sahara has been repeatedly saying that more than Rs 93 per cent of outstanding dues have been already returned to investors and submission of any fresh money to Sebi was not required.

They also claimed that Sahara group has an "apprehension that money paid to Sebi will remain with Sebi for very long time as they have not shown any intention to verify accounts till yet".

The group has accused Sebi of not even starting the process of verification of investors despite 18 months having passed, so that they can be identified and money can be refunded to them.

The Supreme Court had ordered on August 31, 2012, refund of over Rs 24,000 crore by two Sahara firms to an estimated three crore investors. The group was asked to deposit the money with Sebi, which was asked to facilitate the refund to genuine investors after verifying their credentials.

Later in December that year, Sahara was asked to deposit the money in three installments including an immediate payment of Rs 5,120 crore.

While the group deposited the first installment, it claimed to have already refunded more than Rs 20,000 crore in cash directly to the investors. However, Sebi has contested this claim. Later, Sebi ordered attachment of bank accounts and properties of the group for recovery of the outstanding dues from Sahara.