Supreme Court threatens further crack down against Subrata Roy's Sahara Group

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 10 2014, 01:07am hrs
Sahara groupSupreme Court warns Sahara Group: Don't think that court is helpless. (Reuters)
The Supreme Court today warned Subrata Roy's Sahara Group to reveal source of Rs 22,885 crore which it claimed to have refunded its investors or be ready to face inquiry by CBI and Registrar of Companies.

Sending a clear message that the court is not "helpless" in taking action for flouting its directions, the apex court rapped Sahara chief Subrata Roy and the group for refusing to disclose the source of money.

The apex court's order barring Roy from leaving the country will also continue.

"Don't think that the court is helpless. We can ask the CBI and the Registrar of Companies to conduct probe against you. We are not helpless. We will find out the source of money if you don't reveal it. We would ask the probe agencies to find out," a bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar said.

The bench expressed its disapproval when it was noted that Sahara has written a letter to SEBI saying that source of the money was "immaterial". It said that behaviour of the company and Roy was "obnoxious".

"Someone from your company has the audacity to say that source is immaterial. If you have refunded the money then you must have the record of the source from where you got the money. We cannot tell you how obnoxious has been the reply. Your behaviour has been amazing," the bench said, adding, "We have been polite and generous to you but if you give us the stick, then what to do."

The bench said that thousands of crores are involved in this case and questioned how the registered companies are not maintaining the account.

"If you have maintained the account then you can find out the details of the source within ten minutes," the bench said.

"We showed maximum indulgence to you but you never came out with truth during the last two years. No matter what you do, you have to to give the amount," it said, observing, "If you have done blunder then we can't help you".

At the outset of the proceedings, the counsel appearing for Roy, submitted that title deeds of properties worth Rs 20,000 crore have been handed over to SEBI and he be allowed to leave the country.

But senior advocate Arvind Dattar, appearing for the market regulator, raised question on the title deeds and worth of the properties some of their value were shown to have been appreciated by 8,500 percent during the last ten years.

Senior counsel C A Sunderam, Roy's counsel, then submitted "I cannot do anything more than this and I cannot offer more than this".

The bench then got agitated over this and rapped the group and Roy for their behaviour.

It directed the company to disclose all the information sought by SEBI including the source of money by January 23 and posted the case for hearing on January 28.

In his application, Roy urged the apex court to consider his plea sympathetically and allow him to visit UK and USA.

Three contempt petitions filed by SEBI against Roy, the two firms--Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIREC) and Sahara India Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHIC)--and their directors are pending before the court.

It had on August 31 last year directed the Sahara group to refund Rs.24,000 crore by November end. The deadline was further extended and the companies were directed to deposit Rs 5,120 crore immediately and Rs 10,000 crore in first week of January and the remaining amount in first week of February.

The group, which had handed over the draft of Rs 5,120 crore on December 5, has failed to pay the rest of the amount.

The two companies, their promoter Roy and directors Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary were told to refund the collected money to the regulator.

Earlier, the Group agreed to hand over documents of its 71 properties which it claimed to be worth Rs 20,000 crore as security with the SEBI for refunding investors money.

The court had granted time to SEBI to verify the genuineness of the property deeds submitted by the company and posted the case for the next hearing on January 9.

Sahara said the properties submitted are spread across cities such as Mumbai, Cochin, Noida, Ajmer, Aligarh, Haridwar, Muzaffarnagar, Raipur, Amritsar, Jhansi, Kanpur and Faridabad.