The Telegraph
Friday , March 7 , 2014
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‘Insulted’ Supreme Court rejects Sahara offer, Roy to remain in Tihar

New Delhi, Mar 7 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday ticked off the Sahara group for not coming out with a proper proposal for refunding Rs 20,000 crore of investors’ money and asked it to come out with an “honourable” plan.

Sahara’s boss Subrata Roy, arrested last week after failing to turn up before the court, will remain in Tihar jail till next Tuesday, when the court will hear the matter again.

The apex court expressed displeasure that the Sahara group asked for assembling of the special bench to hear the matter but did not provide a proper proposal. “It's an insult to us,” it observed.

On Friday, the Sahara group submitted that it was ready to make a cash payment of Rs 2,500 crore within three days and gave an assurance that it will pay the rest of Rs 14,900 crore in five instalments by the end of July 2015.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar rejected the proposal after the Securities & Exchange Board of India also opposed it on the ground that group is supposed to pay Rs 34,000 crore and not just Rs 17,400 crore which it agreed to pay on Friday.

”It is not a proper proposal and the proposal should be honourable,” the bench said.

”You make us assemble (sitting of the special bench) and then you are saying that you won't be able to pay the money. It is a big insult to us. It is not proper in my view. You should not make us assemble if you don't have a proper proposal to make,” Justice Khehar said.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, who was accompanied by other senior lawyers, tried to convince the court that it is not possible at this stage to raise more money as the main person, Roy, is behind bars and his people have no access to him in judicial custody.

”The one person who can find money is not in a position to do it. He is the only one who can arrange money. He can work out if he is allowed to get out. We are also not allowed to access him,” he pleaded.

At this, the bench said that it can make arrangements to allow Roy's financial consultants and lawyers to meet him in custody but made it clear that there is no way of getting away from paying the amount.

“For the last one and half years he (Roy) has been out and he has been behind only for the last few days,” the bench said adding “We can arrange meetings but you must pay the amount”.

The bench then ordered that financial consultants and lawyers of Roy would be allowed to meet him between 10 and 12am every day.

Another senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that not a single investor had filed any complaint against the group and the court should also consider that it is also a matter of livelihood for 14 lakh Sahara employees.

The bench then shot back saying “is there any real investor”.

The matter was initially mentioned before a bench of Justices Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen in the morning but it refused to look into the proposal on the ground that SEBI was not given a copy of the proposal.

It directed the group to furnish the copy of the proposal to counsel of the market regulator and said that it would hear the matter at 11:30am.

The lawyers again assembled at 11:30am and Justice Radhakrishnan then went through the proposal and agreed for assembling of the special bench to consider the proposal.

Justice Radhakrishnan said “the first instalment looks attractive”.

At 1:30pm the special bench of justices Radhakrishnan and Khehar assembled but rejected the proposal after SEBI's counsel Pratap Venugopal strongly opposed the offer made by Sahara on the ground that the group was bound to pay Rs 34,000 crore and the proposal was only for Rs,17,400 crore.

He also pleaded that Sahara be not given a long time of 17 months to deposit the money.

The bench then accepted the plea of SEBI and rejected Sahara's proposal.

In the meantime, Sahara counsel submitted that Roy be sent to police custody as they would have better access to him. The bench, however, said that it would hear that plea on March 11.

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