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SC declines Sahara chief's plea for release

Posted on Mar 13 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, March 13 : Sahara group chief Subrata Roy will continue to stay in Tihar jail as the Supreme Court Thursday declined his plea for release on a personal bond with an assurance that he will not leave the country.

The bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice J.S. Khehar reiterated their earlier order as they asked counsel Ram Jethmalani if there was any proposal by the Sahara chief to deposit the balance of Rs.19,000 crore to SEBI for redemption of the investors' money collected through OFCDs.

Declining to release Roy and two other directors, the court directed the listing of the plea challenging its March 4 order to March 25.

When Jethmalani told the court that Roy was prepared to pay an amount of Rs.2,500 crore as part payment of the outstanding amount, the court refused to accept the offer.

A similar offer made March 7 by Sahara was rejected as unacceptable by the court.

During the course of the hearing, the court inquired if there was a proposal by Sahara to park with SEBI the balance of Rs.19,000 crore to set rolling the process of returning the investors' money after their verification.

"Whatever proposal we could make, we tried when we were free. With incarceration, things are worst. Whoever helps wants something in return. I must be able to go to a person. I am in no position to offer proposal with my assets," Jethmalani appearing for Roy told the court.

He told the court that their release would allow them to enjoy the Holi festival with their families, and also informed about the bad health of Roy's mother.

Jethmalani told the court that as it was under the contempt of court, it was a bailable offence and carries a sentence of six months.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Radhakrishnan told Jethmalani that they did not find anything embarrassing in Roy's plea holding that its March 4 order sending Roy and other directors to judicial custody was void and null and thus illegal.

Jethmalani had Wednesday told the court that it was embarrassing to tell the two judges that their order was not right.

The judges told him that they would decide whether the pleading was embarrassing to them only after going through it.

Justice Radhakrishnan asked Jethmalani to proceed with his arguments and also address the question of maintainability of the petition as raised by the SEBI.

As Jethmalani sought to assail the March 4 order as a "mistake", Justice Radhakrishnan said: "We were driven to such a situation to pass such an order as all the earlier efforts to make Sahara pay the investors money to SEBI went unheaded."

Describing the decision to send Roy and two other directors to judicial custody a "draconian" order, counsel Rajiv Dhawan told the court the order to "send someone to judicial custody is draconian" which was erroneous both on procedure and substantive issues and "exceeded the (court's) jurisdiction".

Dhawan told the court that it had passed an "unlimited detention order with a bail bond of Rs.22,000 crore".

Right in the beginning, counsel Arvind Dattar appearing for SEBI questioned the maintainability of Roy's petition challenging the March 4 order by way of writ petition taking recourse of article 32 - right to move the Supreme Court for enforcement of fundamental rights.

Dattar told the court that if Roy felt the March 4 order was void and null, then he could have moved a review petition and taken other steps for getting it corrected if article 32 was not the remedy available to him.

Apprising the court of the magnitude of the public issue by Sahara's two companies SIRECL and SHICL, Dattar told the court that with 3.3 crore investors together contributing Rs.24,780 crore, it was the largest public issue in the history of the country till 2011 as it was more than all shareholders of all companies put together.

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