Roy skips hearing, SC issues warrant

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Feb 27 2014, 03:09am hrs
With Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy failing to appear before the Supreme Court, the apex court on Wednesday issued a non-bailable warrant against him. The case relates to the SCs two-year-old order directing the group to refund around R24,000 crore to its investors, after the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) restrained two of the groups companies from raising money through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs). The non-bailable warrants are returnable for March 4, a bench comprising justices K Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar said.

We had already declined on Tuesday Roys plea seeking exemption from a personal appearance, the bench said..

In response to Jethmalani's submission, the bench shot back: The arms of this court are very long. We can get him. This is the Supreme Court of the land. Do we have to be at his mercy If other directors can appear, why can't you (Roy)

Jethmalani sought to explain Roy's non-appearance saying he was sitting by his ailing mother's bedside and furnished a medical certificate of Roy's mother's condition issued by Sahara Hospital, Lucknow.

He said, on all earlier occasions, the Sahara chief had complied with the apex court order. Declining the request, the bench said: On Tuesday, you made a similar request. We declined. For the last two years, we granted exemption from personal appearance.

The court had on February 20 come down heavily on the Sahara Group for not refunding Rs 20,000 crore of investors' money despite its order and summoned Roy, 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) to be personally present before it on Wednesday.

While rejecting Roy's plea for personal exemption on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had said: It involves not only the integrity of the Supreme Court but judges and lawyers involved in the matter. It is said that the order of the Supreme Court is not being complied with. We may retire but we will ensure that our orders are complied with.

Earlier in January, the apex court had barred Roy and other directors from leaving the country until the two group firms furnished all relevant documents pertaining to the source of money they claimed to have repaid investors. It had also suggested Sebi to take steps towards selling properties, given as security to recover dues, irrespective of the value and to initiate prosecution if the properties were not unencumbered. You won't pay. You won't allow to recover... This has been happening for last two years. You have never complied with our orders and we know you will not. Let all alleged contemnors remain present before us now. They must know what is happening in court, the bench had said.

The Sahara Group has been under fire for claiming that it has refunded the bulk of the amount to the investors and only around Rs 5,120 crore is left for which it has furnished a bank draft to Sebi.

The bench had on August 31, 2012 directed the Sahara group to refund Rs 24,000 crore by November-end. The deadline was further extended and on December 5, 2012, the companies were directed to deposit Rs 5,120 crore immediately and Rs 10,000 crore in the first week of January 2013 and the remaining amount in first week of February last year.