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Sahara case to be heard by new bench: one judge retires & the other opts out

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) Supreme Court judge Justice J.S. Khehar has recused himself from hearing the Sahara case and the other judge on the bench has retired, requiring the setting up of a new bench.

Justice Radhakrishnan, who retired on May 14, has gone on record saying that the bench was under immense pressure in the case. Sahara group chief Subrata Roy is in jail after the group failed to obey earlier court orders calling for it to repay depositors.

The deputy registrar of the apex court, Rakesh Sharma, said a letter from Justice Khehar date May 6 was placed before the Chief Justice of India on May 7.

“On May 7 itself, the CJI has been pleased to constitute another bench to hear the matter relating to Sahara Group,” Sharma said in a release on Thursday.

The release, read out by the official at a press conference here, said that Justice Khehar had written a letter the day when he and Justice K S Radhakrishnan decided a petition filed by Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy.

The SC official, however, did not disclose the details of the new bench that will now hear the petitions relating to Sahara Group.

In a judgment on May 6, the bench of justices Radhakrishnan and Khehar had upheld its order jailing Subrata Roy and rejected his claim that rules of natural justice were not followed in the case.

Roy, 65, who has been in jail since March 4 for failing to refund over Rs 20,000 crore to depositors, was asked by the court to make a fresh proposal for paying Rs 10,000 crore to get bail.

The court had passed the order on a petition filed by Roy challenging the constitutional validity of its order passed on March 4 by which he was sent to jail for not complying with its order to deposit around Rs 20,000 crore of investors’ money with SEBI.

The bench had come down heavily on the Group for “systematically” frustrating and flouting all its orders with impunity on refunding investors' money.

It had said the group “adopted a demeanour of defiance constituting a rebellious behaviour, not amenable to the rule of law” and justified its decision to jail Roy along with two promoters of two Sahara companies.

The bench had said that it started adopting sequentially harsher means to persuade compliance of its order on refunding money leading to Roy's detention after all the efforts to ”cajole” the two companies and the petitioner were ”methodically circumvented”.

It had also slammed Roy's plea seeking its recusal from hearing the case.

“We find no merit in the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner, that we should recuse ourselves from the hearing of this case. Calculated psychological offensives and mind games adopted to seek recusal of Judges, need to be strongly repulsed.

”We deprecate such tactics and commend a similar approach to other Courts, when they experience such behaviour,” it had said.

The bench had said that the two companies of which Roy is a promoter “flouted” various orders passed by the SEBI, SAT, the High Court and of this Court, with impunity which cannot be allowed.

The apex court had held that various proposals made by Roy and the Group on depositing money turned out to be “ploys to sidetrack and derail the process of law”.

It had said that the apex court, before passing the order for sending him jail, had “immaculately” followed the procedure and Roy and other contemnors were afforded an opportunity of oral hearing before the order was passed.

It had also brushed aside the contentions of the Group that money had already been substantially refunded to investors saying the stand has been rejected earlier also and the contention is untenable.

The apex court had earlier imposed a condition that Roy, who is in jail since March 4, will be freed on bail only if he pays Rs 10,000 crore out of which Rs 5,000 crore has to be in bank guarantee and rest Rs 5,000 crore in cash.


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