SC willing to defreeze Saharas accounts to help Subrata Roy repay Rs 10,000 cr

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 17 2014, 06:17am hrs
In a minor relief to the Sahara Group, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it was willing to relax its Rs 10,000-crore payment condition to let chief Subrata Roy out of jail even as the group alleged that Roy's detention order was arbitrary and pre-written.

A bench comprising justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar sought details of Sahara's bank accounts so that it can defreeze them in order to pave way for the company to refund Rs 10,000 crore to its investors and release its detained chief.

The judges observed that they were considering relaxing the condition to secure Roy's release. We thought on our own to modify certain conditions since you said you are unable to collect money. It is not final but we considered it on our own, the bench said.

The Sahara lawyers pleaded that the group was not being able to pay the bail as the Supreme Court had frozen its bank accounts to which the judges shot back and said, You could have come to us for lifting the stay on operating bank accounts by mentioning the account numbers, but you didn't come. Even now you tell us the account numbers, we will lift the stay.

However, during the course of the day, the court told the Sahara group that if you are willing to pay, tell us the amount. We will transfer the funds to Sebi just now...There are no great funds (in the bank accounts) as everything was done in cash.

Roy told the court that the trial conditions in the case were "impossible" and offered to be kept under house arrest once again till the bail money is paid.

The court did not respond to the plea and said the hearing will resume on Thursday.

Challenging the validity of the detention order, senior counsel Rajiv Dhavan, on behalf of Roy, argued that the manner in which the detention order was pronounced on March 4, it appeared as if the order was already prepared. It was a pre-written order and was just pronounced in the court, he said.

He said that neither the court nor the market regulator had been entirely fair with the group and its people and even the Supreme Court rules were not followed in sending Roy and two other directors to jail. Other Sahara counsel Ram Jethmalani and CA Sundaram argued that all procedures prescribed under the law were ignored for jailing Roy.

They claimed the Sahara chief was detained without any notice or hearing. They further said the bench should recuse themselves from hearing the case, claiming they have strong disposition against Sahara.

Last week, the court had turned down a request by the group to release Roy from jail and keep him in house arrest or office arrest to facilitate collection of money. The bench had then clarified that the trio were not under arrest. They are only in our custody in Tihar jail, it said.

Lawyers representing the group had argued that it was looking for international buyers to sell its properties in order to raise the money to refund the investors. Which international buyer would want to visit a place like Tihar jail to negotiate a deal with Roy, the Sahara group counsel had told the court.

Earlier, the group had withdrawn its proposal to pay Rs 2,500 crore upfront and the same amount within 21 days of Roy's release.

Roy was arrested on February 28 and has been held in Tihar Jail since March 4 after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running legal battle between the group and Sebi over refund of Rs 19,000 crore to nearly three crore investors.