The Supreme Court has refused bail to Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who had sought that he be released for 40 days to finalise the sale of three hotels his company owns abroad. Mr. Roy has been lodged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail since March 4 this year.
The court has, however, said that if Sahara comes up with a “concrete proposal” it can allow Mr. Roy to negotiate his business deals through video-conferencing from a guest house in Delhi between 10 am and 4 pm.
Mr. Roy has offered to sell the hotels to raise money to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to return Rs. 24,000 crore to investors, collected by Sahara group companies through financial instruments that were later ruled illegal.
The three hotels that the Sahara group owns abroad are the Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London.
The Sahara group has been struggling to raise Rs. 10,000 crore to secure bail for its chief. The court has rejected Sahara’s proposal that it pay in installments. Several attempts by Sahara to secure bail for Mr. Roy since his arrest have come to naught.
The court had earlier also turned down a Sahara plea that Mr. Roy be held under house arrest.
Subrata Roy was arrested in March after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in the long-running legal battle between his group and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) over repaying investors.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered Sahara to repay, with interest, all investors who subscribed to bonds sold by two of its businesses, saying the company had not met with Sebi rules for public issues and the process was “dubious”. While Sahara says it has repaid most of the money, the Supreme Court and the Sebi have disputed that.
The Supreme Court recently said that Sahara’s liability is between Rs. 33,000 crore and Rs. 35,000 crore. Also, the Income Tax Department has approached the Supreme Court with a tax demand of Rs. 4,800 crore against Sahara.
The Supreme Court has allowed Sahara to raise Rs. 4,298 crore by selling nine real estate properties in Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Chauma, Ajmer, Bhopal, Bhavnagar, Jodhpur, Pune and Vasai. The court also ordered a defreezing of Sahara’s bank deposits in June this year.
Sahara is best known as the former main sponsor of India’s national cricket team. It co-owns the Sahara Force India Formula One auto racing team with liquor baron Vijay Mallya.