Subrata Roy sent to jail, Supreme Court says 'you told us to go to hell'

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 5 2014, 18:06pm hrs
RoyWhat do you want us to do? Hold our hands and ask you to pay?: Supreme Court to Subrata Roy. PTI
THE Supreme Court today ordered custody in jail for Sahara group chief Subrata Roy until March 11 after slamming the groups dilatory tactics and trashing its claim of having already refunded the investors. Roy, after issuance of a non-bailable arrest warrant by the court, had been kept in a guest house in Lucknow by the Uttar Pradesh police for the last three days.

The ardent appeal by Subrata Roy, who had already tendered his unconditional apology to the court, for suggesting an alternative so as to stave off judicial custody, failed to move a Bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice J S Khehar.

We tried to accommodate you but you said go to hell. We tried again and again so that our orders are complied with but you pushed us in a corner. What do you want us to do Hold our hands and ask you to pay If we allow this anymore, every litigant will start behaving in this manner, said the bench.

Subrata Roy, who was earlier attacked with ink by a man when he was being brought in for production in the court by the Lucknow police, will be kept in Delhis Tihar Jail until the group comes up with an acceptable proposal to comply with the order on depositing Rs 17,000 crore with SEBI for disbursement to investors.

Besides Subrata Roy, two other directors are also ordered to be kept in custody. A woman director was spared because of her gender and also to enable her to coordinate with others to draft the proposal.

The court has, however, allowed the group to request for an early hearing if a concrete and acceptable proposal can be offered in the meantime. The group is likely to mention the matter as soon as possible with an alternate proposal.

Sufficient opportunities have been given to the contemnors to fully comply with those orders and purge the contempt committed by them but rather than availing of the same, they have adopted various dilatory tactics to delay the implementation of the orders, said the bench, while noting that breach of court orders shakes the foundation of judicial system and undermines the rule of law.

Referring to various documents adduced by Sahara in the last three years, the court noted that the group made unacceptable statements and affidavits all through and also in the contempt proceedings initiated at SEBIs instance for breach of the courts August 2012 verdict to refund money to investors.

Documents and affidavits produced by the contemnors themselves would apparently falsify their refund theory and cast serious doubts about the existence of the so-called investors. All the fact-finding authorities have opined that majority of investors do not exist, said the court, while also observing that it had serious doubts whether investors really existed.

The bench highlighted that market abuse was a serious financial crime which undermines the very financial structure of this country and will make imbalance in wealth between haves and have-nots.

As lawyers for Sahara vehemently opposed Subrata Roys custody without being held guilty of contempt, the bench made it clear that the present order was not for contempt but was under the extraordinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to maintain the rule of law.

The court also junked the groups request to give them some more time to enable them sell their properties to deposit money with SEBI. We are not interested in selling your properties. It is your headache. You should have done it long back but all you give us is Ifs and Buts. We gave you enough time but you did not allow us to proceed. We are not happy with your proposal. We dont accept it. We know our orders will not complied by you even after five years like this, retorted the court.

The court further said that the group had to pay the entire Rs 24,000 crore, as stipulated in its August 2012 order, and that whatever remains to be paid to investors will not be returned to Sahara but will be deposited with the RBI.

It reproached the group for filing false and inconsistent affidavits over refund of investors money and cautioned the court could initiate separate contempt proceedings for perjury. Your statement that you have already paid all the investors appears to be totally and absolutely false. An ordinary litigant, who cannot pay Rs 10,000 after a court order, is sent to civil imprisonment. Tell us if every litigant should be allowed to act the way you did Should we allow this to happen it said.

Incensed over non-compliance with its orders to redeem the investors, the court had on February 20 summoned Subrata Roy, and Ravi Shankar Dubey, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Vandana Bhargava, directors of its firms Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIREC) and Sahara India Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHIC).

Subrata Roy however failed to show up, prompting the bench to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.

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