The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up Sahara group for issuing public advertisements accusing SEBI of being a "sarkari gunda" (government goon) for taking action against it for not refunding Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion) to investors.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar took strong exception to Sahara's newspaper advertisements alleging "witch hunt" by SEBI and asked it get apology published in same newspapers.
"We will take all this very seriously. Don't try to take us for a ride. You are not going to gain anything from this...You must understand you are facing contempt. Such acts
will precipitate the matters. They (SEBI) are statutory authority, performing duties, implementing our orders. What is this?" the bench said.
The counsel, appearing for the group, immediately tendered an apology. In the meantime, the Group agreed to hand over documents of its 71 properties which it claimed to be worth Rs 20,000 crore as security with the SEBI for refunding investors money.
The bench, however, refused Sahara's plea to allow its chief Subrata Roy to travel abroad as he was restrained by the apex court for not handing over the documents to SEBI.
"All this situation would not have arisen if you had followed our orders, given them (SEBI) documents, given them source of refunded money. All this hide and seek will lead you nowhere," the court said.
Sahara sought lifting of the November 21 travel restrain order on Roy, saying it has submitted a new set of title deeds of 71 properties with SEBI in order to show its bonafides.
The bench granted time to SEBI to verify the genuineness of the property deeds submitted by the company and posted the case for the next hearing on January 9.
The court also rejected the Sahara's plea to de-freeze the bank accounts of its group companies as ordered by SEBI earlier.
The apex court had earlier barred Sahara group from selling or "parting with" any of its properties and restrained the group's head Subrata Roy Sahara and three group company
directors from leaving India after the company failed to comply with the court's order to provide unencumbered title deeds of properties worth Rs 20,000 crore.
Sahara said the properties submitted are spread across cities such as Mumbai, Cochin, Noida, Ajmer, Aligarh, Haridwar, Muzaffarnagar, Raipur, Amritsar, Jhansi, Kanpur and Faridabad.