A smiling Subrata Roy is escorted by police to a court in Lucknow on Friday. Picture by Naeem Ansari
Feb. 28: Sahara chief Subrata Roy “surrendered” to Lucknow police at his sprawling residential complex, triggering a chain of events that led to his arrest, remand in police custody and detention at a forest guesthouse.
A Lucknow court that sat on a post-Shivaratri holiday and was made to wait for hours has sent Roy to police custody till March 4 when he is to be presented before the Supreme Court.
“With folded hands and with all humility I appeal to the hon’ble judges that if hon’ble court can allow me to live with my ailing mother under house arrest till 3rd of March,” the 65-year-old Sahara chief had said in a media release earlier today.
But shortly after the arrest, the apex court rejected his plea for withdrawal of the non-bailable warrant it had issued against him on Wednesday in a contempt case arising out of two Sahara companies’ alleged failure to refund Rs 20,000 crore to investors.
The events mark a spectacular downfall for a man who once hobnobbed with celebrities and the powerful, sponsored Team India, and offered a platform for Bollywood, cricket and politics to become bedfellows in the head-spinning India Shining years.
Roy, however, had his trademark smile in place while being escorted to court and later the guesthouse by the police.
He can now approach the apex court with a fresh plea on Saturday — a court holiday, when the possibility of being heard is remote — or Monday.
Unusually, the Lucknow police, who had said yesterday they could not find Roy at his home, did not seek immediate transit remand and instead asked for four days’ police custody. Roy pleaded to be allowed to stay under house arrest to look after his mother, who is 92.
One of Roy’s lawyers said the police move should suit the Sahara chief who, if taken to Delhi today, would have found himself in a police lockup there. “It’s up to the police where they want to keep the accused,” chief judicial magistrate Anand Kumar Yadav said.
Around 8.30pm, Roy was taken to a forest department guesthouse on Lucknow’s outskirts. A police picket has been placed before his home.
In his media release, Roy denied he had evaded the police last evening and claimed he had rejected well-wishers’ advice to get himself admitted to hospital because “I hate to do such drama”.
Had Roy stayed under the radar till March 4, he could have surrendered to the police that day and been taken straight to the apex court.
Sources said Roy had called the police to his home. For the next six hours, Roy stayed put inside, consulting lawyers and getting himself medically checked.
Eventually, the police took him in a convoy of cars, including two Audis, to the court. Roy entered the courthouse through a back door to avoid the media.
Roy’s statement said that when the police came for him last evening, he had stepped out of home to consult doctors about “certain medical reports of my mother and then I had gone to a lawyer’s house”.
Apex court blow
Roy’s counsel Ram Jethmalani told the Supreme Court around 10.30am that his client had surrendered and been arrested, and sought recall of the arrest warrant.
But Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, who had issued the warrant along with Justice J.S. Kehar, was sitting with Justice Vikramjit Sen this morning. He declined to entertain the plea.
Former Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, also representing Roy, requested that the matter be taken up at least at 4pm, when the court retires for the day. But this plea too was rejected.
Then, as Justices Radhakrishnan and Sen rose for lunch around 1.30pm, Prasad again implored the court to hear Roy’s plea. “I have filed the arrest memo from the police; kindly hear me,” Prasad pleaded.
But Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Another bench will be sitting today in the afternoon. We will not hear it.”