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Subrata Roy all set for first deal from Tihar

July 31, 2014 08:24 IST

Subrata Roy all set for first deal from Tihar

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

Jail officials, group to thrash out finer details to enable late night skype with Los Angeles-based buyers

The Supreme Court today asked the Sahara group to discuss with Tihar jail officials and come up with a mutually acceptable proposition for group chief Subrata Roy's negotiations with overseas buyers. If all goes well, Roy could soon be negotiating over video conference with global funds and other high profile international buyers interested in London's Grosvenor House and New York's Plaza hotel, the group intends to sell.

In an unprecedented move, the Delhi government has agreed to provide Roy negotiation facilities to enable the sale of his properties including the iconic hotels to meet his obligations towards the Securities and exchange Board of India.

The court directed the parties to submit a detailed proposal including the exact number of equipment, staff and time period for which these are required on Friday.

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Image: File photo of Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy (C) arriving at the Supreme Court in New Delhi on March 4, 2014.
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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The directions came after Sahara counsel Harish Salve pointed out some practical difficulties in negotiations over video conference with buyers in Los Angeles in the west coast of USA due to difference in time zone. According to the proposal submitted by the government, Roy was allowed to be outside his cell in the special negotiation facilities between 6 AM and 8 PM.

But Salve said a fund based in Los Angeles is a prospective buyer and due to the 12 hours 30 minutes time difference, "it may have to go beyond 8PM." The Sahara counsel added that a similar relaxation may be required for negotiations with buyers in New York also.

He added, "There is a sense of distress. He doesn't want somebody to benefit out of this distress."

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Image: The entrance to the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane in London.
Photographs: Lee Besford/Reuters

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However, Delhi government represented by solicitor general Ranjit Kumar said movement of detenues outside the lock-in and lock-out timings would not be permissible. He also pointed out that secretaries who are being allowed for Roy cannot stay back in the prison premises after 8 PM.

Earlier, the Delhi government offered two locations within the jail complex for Roy to choose from. One was a 80ft X 30ft conference room attached to the Tihar court complex.

Second was an out-house, which was more of residential facility. Kumar said Sahara has to provide the list of visitors in advance to the jail superintendent. These details will be kept confidential, he said.

Mobile phones and other gadgets will be allowed inside the negotiation room, the jail would arrange wifi facilities and vegetarian food on payment by the detenues.

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Image: The dance floor in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza hotel in New York.
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

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Salve said he was happy with the proposals and would choose first option of a conference room.

The court had sent Roy to jail in March to enforce its August 2012 directing two group firms to deposit with Sebi over Rs 24,029 crore raised from 29.6 million investors with interest.

Sahara deposited Rs 5,120 crore (Rs 51.2 billion) and claimed to have refunded the rest to investors directly, but the court has refused to entertain this argument. The dues have since swelled to Rs 37,000 crore (Rs 370 billion) along with interest.

The court has given Roy a conditional bail requiring payment of Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion)- one half in cash and the other half in the form of bank guarantee. The group has deposited a further Rs 3,100 crore (Rs 31 billion) in cash so far.


Image: File photo of Subrata Roy being escorted by police to a court in Lucknow on February 28, 2014.
Photographs: Reuters

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