You are in jail by choice, apex court tells Sahara chief

SC pulls up Subrata Roy for delaying sale of properties

You are in jail by choice, apex court tells Sahara chief

The Supreme Court on Monday reacted sharply to a plea by jailed Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy for release on humanitarian grounds saying he was in jail as per his choice, despite claiming to have properties worth over Rs1.85 lakh crore.

“One thing which is troublesome is that the person (Roy) says there is an asset of Rs 1,85,000 crore. He tells the court that he has so much of money, but when it comes to paying one-fifth of that, he is unable to pay.”

“You have to pay only one-fifth of your amount. The person who is blessed with so much money is sacrificing his liberty in jail and not parting away with his property. You are in jail by choice,” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice T S Thakur said.

The court’s observation came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal contended that it was not fair for the court to put Roy inside jail when the contempt proceedings against him were not over.

Further, he said other large business houses did not have to suffer like this and their loans of considerable amount like Rs 1,000 crore get rescheduled for payment in five or 10 years by the RBI or banks.

The senior advocate said it was difficult for Roy to arrange a big amount for his release by staying inside the jail. However, the bench said, “please appreciate we have certain constraints. Read the previous orders passed by this court. You will know why your client is in jail...”

Sibal said he has read all the orders and the court should consider Roy’s release on humanitarian grounds. The court said even if he was released, the sword will be hanging over his head on return as he has to pay the remaining amount. Sibal, however, sought extension of the conference facility in jail for negotiating with the potential buyers of properties which was coming to end on August 16.

Roy, along with two directors, has been in jail since March 4 last year. The court directed the company to deposit Rs 10,000 crore — Rs 5,000 crore as cash and equal amount as bank guarantee with Sebi to secure release of Roy and others.

Senior advocates Arvind Datar for Sebi and Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, said the appointment of a receiver was inevitable.

“Why can’t a receiver be appointed? Let the properties be taken over and let it be sold and the money be deposited with the receiver as it is apparent they are incapable of generating money and selling properties,” the bench said adding that a retired judge of the apex court who was appointed to oversee the action taken by Sebi against Sahara Group would be the chairman of the receiver.

The court asked Sebi counsel to file a fresh application for appointment of receiver.

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