SC refuses to extend the deadline for Sahara to deposit Rs 600 crore
Sahara group chief Subrata Roy could be in for serious trouble again, with the Supreme Court, on Thursday, toughening its stand and refusing to extend time beyond February 6 for him to deposit Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion), saying he would have to go to jail in case of a default.
"This court has given so much indulgence to you. This is the worst. If you don't pay the amount, you will have to go back to jail," the newly constituted bench, comprising justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said.
The new bench scrutinised the repeated extension of Roy's parole and said too much indulgence has been given to him, more than any other litigant by the court.
"Parole is granted for a specific purpose and limited period. You (Roy) were given parole for performing the last rites of your mother. But you have been out for nine months. The specific purpose is over and this is continuing," it said.
The bench asked Sebi counsel Arvind Dattar what would happen if the Sahara chief does not pay the amount to the market regulator.
Dattar said there were 87 plus properties which would be attached, a receiver could be appointed and the properties sold through auction, if the company fails to pay the amount.
The bench said "if he defaults to pay the amount then he will go back to jail, then properties will be attached, receiver appointed and sold through auction".
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sahara, said if this is the court's mood, then they may not be heard. "It is the most unfortunate statement which has come. If this is the mood of court then we need not be heard," he said.
To this, the bench asked "can't the court say what are the options available before it."
"We are here to hear you Mr Sibal. Has not the Supreme Court given so much indulgence to you than any other single litigant? Now you are saying we are not hearing you. This is not done," Justice Gogoi said.
Sibal said he was just seeking time to pay the amount as directed by the court earlier as the economy has slowed down, real estate sector is down by 44 per cent, manufacturing sector has slowed down due to the demonetisation.
"When you were asked to deposit Rs 600 crore on November 28 last year, then also the economic situation was no better.
You tell us you don't have a problem in paying Rs 285 crore.
You still have time till February 6, arrange another Rs 300 crore and deposit it," the bench said.
Sibal then said that the group had deposited Rs 13,000 crore (Rs 130 billion) with Sebi, which has found only 100 investors so far. He said the apex court should appoint a committee to scrutinise the documents submitted regarding the investors.
To this, the bench told Sibal that he has been raking up an issue which has already been decided by the court and it will not go into the issues which have already been decided.
The bench, however, granted liberty to the Sahara chief to transfer 24 million pounds deposited in a bank at London to Sebi-Sahara account as part of Rs 600 crore he has been asked to pay by February 6.
At the outset, Enforcement Directorate also informed the court that during investigation, it has found seven properties of Sahara which needed to be provisionally attached.
The bench listed the matters along with the plea of ED on February 7.
The apex court had on November 28 last year asked Roy to deposit Rs 600 crore more by February 6 next year in the Sebi-Sahara refund account to remain out of jail and cautioned him that in case of failure, he would have to return to prison.
The court had said that it may consider appointing a "receiver" of properties if the group found itself unable of selling them to pay back dues to the investors.
The court had said that the case which is pending since 2012, has a "history" and had asked SEBI and the amicus curiae to respond to the question whether the group was entitled to any further benefit in its re-payment schedule.
The court had on September 28 asked Sahara to deposit another Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) by October 24 while extending the interim order releasing Roy and two other directors on parole.
While extending the parole of Roy and two directors -- Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey -- till October 24 last year, the bench had directed the group to deposit Rs 200 crore by then or go back to jail.