In a glimmer of hope for Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the group to give details of all its assets in a sealed cover so as to explore options for his release.
Stating that its ultimate aim is to recover money and not to keep Roy in jail, a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said that the cash component has almost been settled and Sebi is already in possession of sale deeds of 67 properties valued at R20,000 crore, as per Sahara’s valuation. However, it said that the list of 71 properties given earlier to it is “not exhaustive” to recover liabilities of over R36,000 crore.
“Give us a list of your all the properties. Make honest disclosure and don’t hold back any information,” the CJI told Sahara counsel.
Roy and two other directors of Sahara companies — Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary — are in judicial custody since March 4, 2014 for the failure of their two firms to comply with the apex court’s August 31, 2012 and December 5, 2012, order to return investors’ money.
The CJI also told the market regulator to expedite the sale of properties to ensure recovery of money. “His remaining inside or outside won’t make any difference. Let us be sure of some money coming in. Let them give the list of all the properties. All the title deeds will be deposited with you. We have given you right to sell. Take a overview and see if he can be released,” he said.
“Whatever you may say, the veteran is obstinate man. He values his property more than his personal liberty,” Justice Thakur observed.
The court also asked Sebi to give its interim status report on sale of Sahara properties by the next date of hearing on May 17.
Sebi informed the court that it has engaged two real estate agencies SBI Caps and HDFC Realty to sell Sahara assets and the whole process is likely to be completed within four months. The real estate agenices will help Sebi in valuation as well as the sale process for 67 properties and the process will start soon, senior counsel Arvind Datar argued.
Making a strong pitch for his release on parole or even keeping him under house arrest, senior counsel Rajiv Dhavan, appearing for Roy, said that his health condition is deteriorating and that he may not be able to survive another summer in jail. However, the bench retorted: “We don’t see substantial compliance unless the money is refunded to the investors. It does not give us pleasure to keep somebody in jail. See, there has to be change in circumstances and there has to be a subsantial compliance of our order.”