SC directs arrest of Subrata Roy Sahara
In more trouble for Sahara chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court today ordered his arrest following his failure to appear before it in a contempt case arising out of non refund of Rs 20,000 crore to investors by two of his companies.
"We issue non-bailable warrants of arrest qua Subrata Roy Sahara, alleged contemnor. He shall be arrested and produced before this Court on March 04, 2014 at 2.00 p.m.," a bench comprising justices K S Radhakriahnan and J S Khehar said.
It rejected Roy's plea to exempt him from personal appearance on the ground of ill-health of his 92-year-old mother who is said to be on death bed.
"The arms of this court are very long. Yesterday only we had refused your plea for exemption from personal appearance. We will issue the non bailable warrant. This is the Supreme Court of the land," the bench observed when senior advocate Rama Jethmalani sought to explain the reasons for his non-appearance.
He produced a medical certificate from Sahara Hospital, Lucknow, which gave the medical condition of Roy's mother and recommended that he be allowed on "humane as well as medical grounds" to be with his mother at this stage.
The bench said since it had yesterday declined to grant exemption, it did not find reason to accede to the renewal of the request made today.
Also the medical certificate issued by Sahara Hospital did not indicate the factual position to dispense with his personal presence, the court said.
"This Court passed an order on February 20, 2014 directing the personal presence of the alleged contemnors and the Directors of the respondent companies today, i.e. on February 26, 2014 at 2.00 p.m.
"On our directions, Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Vandana Bhargava are present in Court today. Even though Ram Jethmalani, senior counsel appearing for the alleged contemnors, made a mention yesterday, i.e. on February 25, 2014, before this Bench for dispensing with the personal presence of Subrata Roy Sahara, alleged contemnor, that request was specifically turned down by this Court.
"Today, when the matter is taken up, same request was made by Jethmalani by moving an application, which was supported by a medical certificate. The said medical certificate was issued by Sahara Hospital and, in our view, the factual position indicated therein does not solicit the exemption sought.
"Since, we have already declined to grant exemption from personal presence of alleged contemnor (Roy) on February 25, 2014, we find no reason to accede to the renewal of the request made today.
"Accordingly, we issue non-bailable warrants of arrest qua Subrata Roy Sahara, alleged contemnor. He shall be arrested and produced before this Court on March 4, 2014 at 2.00 p.m.," the bench said.
"The afore-mentioned Directors, who are present today, shall also remain present in Court on the next date. Put up on March 04, 2014 at 2.00 p.m.," it further ordered.
The court had on February 20 come down heavily on the Sahara group for not refunding Rs 20,000 crore of investors money despite its order and summoned Roy, Ravi Shankar Dubey, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Vandana Bhargava, directors of its firms Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIREC) and Sahara India Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHIC) to be personally present before it today.
Jethmalani sought to explain Roy's non-appearance by saying that his "mother is dying and he is on the bedside holding her hands" and on all earlier occasions he had complied with the apex court's order.
He also submitted that the apex court should not be harsh on Roy. However, the bench said, "For last two years we have been seeing what's happening in the matter."
The apex court, which yesterday rejected Roy's plea had made it clear that "rule of law" has to be maintained and he has to comply with its February 20 order in which he along with three directors of his companies have been summoned to appear.
During the hearing earlier, the bench had observed that SEBI could go ahead with the sale of properties of the group whose sale deeds were handed over to the market regulator to recover Rs 20,000 crore.
"Those properties you can sell. We allow you to sell them and recover the money. If they are encumbered properties then you can file criminal case against the company. The case must be brought to a logical conclusion," the bench had said.
The bench had raised question on the way the group has been defying its order for the last one-and-a-half years.
The bench had said SEBI can put those properties on auction and get the money after the market regulator had said that let the company itself sell the properties and deposit the money.
The apex court in its judgement of August 31, 2012 had directed SEBI to attach properties and recover the money.
Sending a clear message that the court is not "helpless" in taking action for flouting its directions, the apex court had on November 21 last year barred Roy from leaving the country and also restrained the group from selling any of its properties.