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Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

February 28, 2014 10:21 IST

Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

Having offered unconditional apology to SC, Subrata Roy can now try convincing apex court why he failed to appear before it

After the Supreme Court ordered the issue of a non-bailable warrant against against Sahara group boss Subrata Roy, he seemed to have burnt all his boats before the apex court. 

But Roy offered an unconditonal apology on Thursday for having failed to appear before the court on Wednesday and pleaded with it to recall an order to arrest him.

But there seem few extremely narrow gateways to escape the spectre of such an apex court-led order that perhaps no corporate chief has experienced in this country.

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Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

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He can file a review petition against the order, he can rush to the court and surrender, offering a sincere apology before he is arrested.

He can convince the judges that his counsel, Ram Jethmalani, was speaking the truth on Wednesday when he said Roy “was sitting in the hospital in Lucknow, holding the hands of his dying mother”. 

A review petition under the SC Rules is illusory; the petition will be examined in chambers by the same judges who passed the order. This bench will see whether there was any “error apparent on the record” in its order.

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Image: Sahara chief Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Reuters

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Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

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The bench is not likely to change its mind within a week, especially because the contempt petition was being argued at length for nearly a year, by star counsels for the Securities and Exchange Board of India on the one hand and those for Roy and his three other directors.

The directors have already appeared in person and have to be present at the next hearing, too, scheduled for next Tuesday. 

Since the bench, of judges K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, has exercised the inherent powers of the highest court of the land, there is no way open to challenge its power and jurisdiction. If it were a court below, there could have been some chance to do so.

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Image: Subrata Roy
Photographs: Reuters

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Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

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The punishment prescribed by the Contempt of Court Act is simple imprisonment up to six months or a fine of Rs 2,000 or both.

The offence Roy is charged with is civil contempt, defined as “wilful disobedience” to any order or wilful breach of any undertaking given to the court. The order was to return about Rs 20,000 crore collected in bonds from investors. 

The court might discharge the contemnor or remit the punishment on an apology made to its satisfaction. If convicted, he can be released on bail on terms the court may think fit.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Roy

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Can Subrata Roy escape from being arrested?

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According to the SC Rules, its registrar issues the warrant under his signature.

It will direct the district magistrate, the superintendent of police or the police commissioner of the place where the accused person is residing to arrest and produce him before the court, with a final sentence: “Herein fail not.” The court can go further and order attachment of property of the accused person.

When a person is thus arrested, he shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest, excluding the time necessary for travel. 

The court can pass further orders, including recovery of costs in the proceedings. Every warrant shall remain in force until it is cancelled by the court or executed.


Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy (front) gestures as he arrives at the Securities and Exchange Board of India headquarters in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Tags: SC Rules

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