Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy will continue to remain in Tihar jail as the Supreme Court rejected his plea that he be put under house arrest to enable him negotiate deals for arranging money to repay investors.
“We have said that you are in judicial custody. You are under our custody. We have not sent you in civil imprisonment. In case of civil imprisonment, it would have amounted to awarding punishment,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar said.
It rejected the plea of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the Sahara chief, that instead of keeping him in Tihar jail, he could be put under “house or office arrest” as it is difficult to raise money while being in jail.
“I submit that there is no jurisdiction to send this person to a criminal jail. Vacations are coming. Our difficulty is how do we ask anybody to go and negotiate in jail,” Jethmalani said.
“My client is in Tihar jail and it makes it impossible for anybody to approach him,” he said at the outset.
He also said Sahara was trying to strike a deal with international buyers and the problem is that it would be difficult to do so when Roy is in jail.
“We will take note of it. That is exactly we are hearing,” the bench said.
Jethmalani said Tihar jail can accommodate 500 prisoners, but, at present, there are 1300 inmates are there.
“I would suggest keep all other matters aside to consider whether this court has jurisdiction to put my client in such a place,” he said, adding the court lacked the jurisdiction.
“If we agree with you then it is the end of the matter,” the bench said at the end of the hearing and asked the lawyers to file short written submissions on April 16, the next date of hearing.
The apex court had earlier imposed a condition that Roy 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.
However, Sahara Group, on April 3, had expressed its inability in immediately paying Rs 10,000 crore for securing bail for Roy and its two directors Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, who are in jail since March 4.