Supreme Court rejects Sahara group chief Subrata Roy's house arrest plea

Utkarsh Anand Posted online: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : In a jolt to Sahara group and its chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea to let him come out of prison and be placed under house arrest.

A bench of Justices TS Thakur and AK Sikri also junked the group's request to modify the order whereby Sahara was asked to first furnish Rs 10,000 crore as security to enable Roy and two other directors come out of the jail.

The bench however allowed Sahara to encash bank deposits and security yo arrange Rs 2500 crore and also sell other properties in nine cities to raise more money.

It also said that Sahara may charge immovable properties in Pune's Ambey Valley to raise Rs 5,000 as bank guarantee.

However, after Sahara manages to raise money, it will have to approach a new three-judge bench since the court referred the case to a larger bench today.

As far as three properties in a broad were concerned, the court asked the group to adduce all the requisite documents and approach the new bench for further directions.

Last week, softening its stand on the release of Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court had said that Roy and the two directors cannot be lodged in jail and the group’s accounts attached when the court wants the group to arrange Rs 10,000 crore as security.

“You cannot keep them in jail and disable them from depositing money. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot stop them from selling properties, attach all their accounts and ask them to come out only when they can pay he money,” the bench had said. 

The bench, however, also clarified that it could not modify the order passed by the previous bench regarding the quantum of security money.

It said it could lift the embargoes on selling properties and operating the bank accounts to enable them arrange money.

“The conditions may be onerous but the court that put you inside deemed such conditions to be appropriate. For this purpose, we will, however, allow you to sell and mortgage some properties subject to certain safeguards and satisfaction of the Sebi,” said the bench.

While reserving its order on Sahara’s fresh application for release of Roy and two other directors, the court also asked the group to produce “adequate communication” with Bank of China, the creditor, including its nod, for sale of three overseas hotels to raise the money.

The bench had said it wanted to have “a clear picture” of the outstanding liability of the Sahara Group along with the valuation report of the properties listed by the company for sale within one week.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for group, had also submitted a fresh proposal stating that they were ready to deposit Rs 3,000 crore cash in five days and another Rs 2,000 crore in the next 30 days thereafter. Besides, the group could furnish a bank guarantee for the rest of Rs 5,000 crore in 60 days after selling its equities in hotels, one situated in London and two in New York.

The court, however, passed the order giving one week time to the group to furnish an affidavit clarifying that it had received the necessary approval from the Bank of China for going ahead with sale of the properties.

The counsel also pleaded for keeping Roy in house arrest instead of Tihar jail here as incarceration in his case had resulted greater hardship to the company and it would “never” be able to comply with court’s order to refund investors money to the Sebi.

“We appreciate everything but the sheer magnitude of the problem is formidable. We have to keep into consideration personal liberty and the amount of the money to be refunded,” the bench replied.

During the hearing, the court said that it was inclined to allow Sahara to sell the nine properties listed by the company and mortgage Amby Valley for raising the money.

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