SC rejects Sahara chief's plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a plea by Sahara chief Subrata Roy seeking exemption from personal appearance before it in the Rs 20,000 crore case to be refunded to investors.

Roy and three directors of his companies are now left with little option but to personally appear before the court on Wednesday. A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar made it clear that “rule of law” has to be maintained and Roy has to comply with its February 20 order in which he along with three others have been summoned to the apex court. The bench did not agree with submission made by Sahara chief’s counsel Ram Jethmalani that Roy should be granted exemption from personal appearance and he would make payment as per the directions.

 As Jethmalani mentioned the matter, the bench said the rule of law should prevail and court’s order should be implemented in letter and spirit.

The bench 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 on February 26.

 During the hearing, the bench observed that Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) could go ahead with the sale of properties of Sahara 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 had on November 21 last barred Roy from leaving the country and also restrained the group from selling any of its properties.

The court has taken up contempt petitions filed by Sebi against Roy, the two firms — Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIREC) and Sahara India Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHIC) — and their directors for allegedly flouting its orders.

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