Supreme Court declines to hear plea by Sahara Group companies
New Delhi, Feb 25 : In a setback to Sahara Groups's two real estate companies, the Supreme Court Monday declined to entertain their plea to be allowed more time to deposit investors' money with market regulator Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and file documents.
"You have not complied with it (the court order) and have no business to come here again," a bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen said, recalling its earlier order.
Declining to entertain the application, the court said, "On the application filed for further time to file documents and extension of time to deposit money, we don't wish to entertain the application."
The two Sahara Group companies - Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL) - were directed by the apex court Aug 31 last year to return Rs.17,400 crore of investors' money with 15 percent interest.
The court by its Dec 5 order directed SEBI to accept a deposit of Rs.5,120 crore. The court said that Sahara would deposit a sum of Rs.10,000 crore in the first week of January and the balance amount in the first week of February.
The court also directed the Sahara companies to submit to the SEBI within 15 days all documents related to collection of money from investors, including application forms.
If the company failed to pay the first installment, the SEBI could seize their account and recover money in terms of Aug 31 order, the court said.
Appearing for the companies, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani sought more time to comply with the order. The chief justice, however, told him that the petitioner companies had earlier made the same plea before another bench of the court, which was declined.
Declining to entertain the Sahara real estate companies' application, the court said: "We passed the order to make it possible to pay the investors' money, but you failed to comply with it."
"We gave you time once only to make it possible to get the money and give it to investor. You went to another court and same was declined," the court said.
At the outset of the hearing, Supreme Court Bar Association president and senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani told the court that it should not hear the application as another bench of the court was dealing with the matter.
"I am neither with Sahara nor with SEBI. As a lawyer and as a member of the court and as a Bar leader, I come before this court," he said. "The tradition of this court has been that if an order is to be modified, it has to go to that bench alone (that had passed it)."
"I am pained and agonized to hear some rumours," Krishnamani told the court.
"This (apex) court has got certain healthy traditions and conventions under which when an order is passed by a bench, another bench will not interfere with it."
As senior counsel said this, Chief Justice Kabir asked him if he had read the petition. "Have you read the petition? Tell us a word."
"You don't need to caution us. We don't need to be cautioned," he said as Krishnamani told the court that all he had said was by way of cautioning the court.