The Supreme Court has raised questions about Sahara chief Subrata Roy’s wealth and why he chose to be behind bars when the value of his assets could have easily covered the Rs. 10,000-crore bail amount demanded by the apex court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, however, directed Roy and Sahara Group director Ashok Roy Choudhary, who were released on parole on May 6 for four weeks to attend rituals following the death of the Sahara chief’s mother, to furnish individual undertaking to prove their “bona fide” and seriousness.
The bench, which gave relief to Roy, noted that the fresh list of properties provided in the sealed cover speaks that “value of your properties was far more than your liability”.
“Why person with this kind of fortune shall be hesitant to make payment,” the bench asked.
Sibal replied, “What is your fear? I will run away. I am going to give an undertaking that I will get Rs 500 crore in two months”.
At the outset, Datar filed a status report indicating the progress made in the sale of properties belonging to Sahara group.
During the proceedings, Sibal submitted details of all the properties of Sahara group in India and abroad in a sealed cover and requested the court not to disclose the details of properties.
When the court saw the list of Roy’s assets it expressed surprise why “such a rich person didn’t pay a fraction of wealth and stayed in jail for two years.”
Roy has been in Tihar jail since March 4, 2014 on the orders of the apex court in relation to a long running dispute with market regulator SEBI.
“We are inclined to give one chance to Subrata Roy and Ashok Roy Choudhary to prove their offer to deposit 200 crore by July 11.
“We, accordingly, direct that the May 6 order would continue till July 11 subject to the individual undertaking being furnished by them,” the bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, said.
If they fail to deposit Rs. 200 crore to SEBI by July 11, they will have to surrender and go back to Tihar jail, the court said in its order.
It also said Roy and Choudhary were free to meet prospective buyers of properties and move within the country in police escort as per May 6 order.
It also held that SEBI would meanwhile continue with the auction of properties of Sahara.
The bench also said Saharas can also go ahead with the sale and alienation of their other properties to raise the amount of Rs. 5000 crore as a bank guarantee they have to deposit in addition to Rs. 5000 crore to get bail.
The order was passed after the submission of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan on behalf of Roy which did not receive objection from SEBI’s senior counsel Arvind Datar.
However, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is appointed as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court, said there are questions as to why Sahara was averse to sale of Aamby Valley and overseas hotels.
Seeking extension of interim parole for Roy till August 4, Sibal said the Sahara chief has already spent more than two years in jail and his client was ready to give an undertaking that he would pay a substantial amount of money in a span of 180 days.