The law finally caught up with Sahara Group managing worker Subrata Roy on Friday with the 65-year-old businessman being sent to police custody till March 4.
Over the past year, the Sahara Group chief has tried every trick in the book to defy the authorities but on Wednesday he incurred the wrath of the Supreme Court (SC) for failing to turn up in person despite a summons. Understandably enraged at his defiance — Roy’s lawyer claimed he was by his ailing mother’s bedside — the apex court ordered the issuing of a non-bailable arrest warrant.
Subrata Roy ultimately surrendered before the Lucknow Police on Friday morning and was remanded in police custody by a local court.
The Sahara chief, in the dock for having not returned Rs 24,000 crore raised by two companies in his group to investors despite orders from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the SC to do so, will be produced before the apex court on Tuesday. Subrata Roy had issued an unqualified apology to the SC on Thursday for failing to appear before it.
Subrata Roy’s behaviour vis-a-vis the courts has been at the very least audacious. In April last year, the SC had pulled him up for failing to respond to a contempt plea filed against him and his group by Sebi, with whom he has had a running feud ever since the regulator restrained the two group companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corp and Sahara Housing Investment Corp — from raising funds through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs).
Hiring a battery of the best lawyers — Ram Jethmalani appeared on his behalf in the SC on Wednesday — Roy had sought recourse to the law as early as December 2010, approaching the Allahabad HC and obtaining a stay against Sebi’s directive.
Subsequently, in early January, Sebi petitioned the SC which directed Sahara to furnish details of the OFCD investors. With the Allahabad High Court vacating the stay in April, 2011, Sahara moved the SC. Sebi’s directive to the group companies to refund Rs 24,000 crore in June 2011 was upheld by the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) in October that year.
The Sahara chief has consistently sought public support through advertisements and has maintained in the court that the funds had been refunded. The Sahara Group also sent truckloads of documents to the Sebi headquarters in Mumbai in an ostensible attempt to