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Saturday , March 8 , 2014
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SC to Roy: ‘An insult to make us assemble’
- Court rejects fresh refund offer, denies plea to free Sahara chief to help work out solution

Subrata Roy

New Delhi, March 7: Any hopes of early release Subrata Roy may have had were dashed today when the Supreme Court rejected a fresh suggestion by Sahara to refund investors and warned that it was an “insult to make us assemble” without a “proper proposal”.

The bench also turned down a plea by Roy’s counsel to let the industrialist out of Tihar jail so he could work out a solution acceptable to the court.

Roy was arrested in a contempt case for Sahara’s failure to carry out an August 2012 Supreme Court order to refund Rs 20,000 crore to investors through stock market regulator Sebi.

On Tuesday, the court had remanded Roy in jail till March 11, rejecting Sahara’s suggestion to sell company assets and pay depositors. But it had said the next hearing could be advanced — with the attendant possibility of bail — if Sahara came up with a better alternative.

Sahara today suggested a staggered refund of Rs 17,400 crore by July 2015, claiming it had already paid over Rs 5,000 crore to stock market regulator Sebi. But the special bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and J.S. Khehar asked it to come up with a more “honourable” proposal by Tuesday.

The two judges were today sitting on different benches but after Roy’s counsel requested them at 10.30am to hear Sahara’s new proposal, they decided to assemble at 2pm.

“You make us assemble. You should not make us assemble if you don’t have a proper proposal. It is an insult to make us assemble,” Justice Khehar told Roy’s defence team, headed by A. Sundaram and including Rajeev Dhawan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rakesh Dwivedi.

“You should get an acceptable proposal. You are making us assemble for a person who is not willing to pay. You should come out with an honourable proposal.”

Sundaram then suggested that the court release his client.

“He (Roy) is one person who can negotiate. But since he is inside jail, he is not able to do much,” he said.

Sundaram added that the legal team was finding it difficult to meet the industrialist in Tihar.

The bench said it could allow Roy access to his financial consultants and lawyers, but ruled out releasing him.

“If you want us to arrange a meeting, we can do it. But you must pay the amount. He (has been) inside for only two days. But he has also been out for the past one-and-a-half years,” Justice Radhakrishnan said.

The allusion was to the period from August 2012 through which Sahara had failed to carry out the court’s order to pay depositors.

The court, however, said that if Sahara applied to the jail authorities, the Tihar superintendent could allow financial consultants and lawyers to meet Roy between 10am and noon.

This is how Sahara today offered to pay Rs 17,400 crore to Sebi in instalments till July next year:

Rs 2,500 crore within three working days after the restriction on operation of bank accounts and deposits is lifted.

Rs 2,000 crore by July 31 this year.

Rs 2,500 crore by October 31.

Rs 3,000 crore by January 1 next year.

Rs 3,500 crore by April 30.

The balance amount of Rs 3,900 crore by July 30.

Roy was arrested in Lucknow on February 28 on the strength of an apex court warrant. He was driven to Delhi after three days at an Uttar Pradesh forest guesthouse and produced before the apex court on March 4.

Two Sahara directors, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, have been remanded till March 11 with Roy.

But the court has spared a third Sahara director, Vandana Bhargava, so she can help work out an alternative way of refunding the investors that is to be placed before the court on March 11.