Sahara group lawyers on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to alter the terms to release its imprisoned chief Subrata Roy, as well as two of its directors. They requested Roy be allowed to stay outside Tihar jail, under “house arrest”, as this would enable him to meet people and raise the amount to abide by the court’s demands.
They offered to pay Rs 2,500 crore right away, Rs 2,500 crore within three weeks of Roy’s release and Rs 5,000 crore in bank guarantees within three months. The judges, however, didn’t accept the proposal. They asked the Sahara lawyers to state all the proposals in an application, which would be taken up on Wednesday.
Roy was sent to prison on March 4. The court had said his release was conditional upon the payment of Rs 10,000 crore.
C A Sundaram, Roy’s counsel, told a Bench of judges K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar the group would try to pay the entire amount, but sought a change in the manner of payment. Seeking “affordable terms”, Sundaram said if Roy could raise the amount demanded by the court, he would not have been in jail. Earlier, senior counsel A M Singhvi had said the order sending Roy to jail couldn’t be justified, as there was a “seamless system” through which a person should be imprisoned. A person who couldn’t afford to pay couldn’t be sent to jail for that reason, he said, adding in the name of discretion, the court couldn’t build a “new edifice of power”. A person couldn’t be sent to jail while proceedings were underway, he said.
Arvind Datar, counsel for the Securities and Exchange Board of India, defended the court order and refuted the arguments of Roy’s lawyers. He said this was a unique case, as the court’s power to enforce its order was being challenged. The court could take such action before deciding on punishment for contempt of court, in the interest of enforcing the order, he added, arguing the companies owed Rs 37,000 crore, including interest, to investors who had paid for bonds.
Datar said the Rs 10,000-crore demanded wasn’t a bail bond but refund of the principal amount. Roy was jailed as he had failed to come to the court on the grounds that his mother was ill, Datar said.
MERCY, YOUR HONOUR
Sahara’s lawyers argued
* Let Sahara chief Subrata Roy stay outside the Tihar prison under house arrest, to enable him to meet people and raise the amount demanded by the court
* The company will pay Rs 2,500 crore right away, Rs 2,500 crore in three weeks of Roy’s release and Rs 5,000 crore in bank guarantees in three months
* Sending Roy to jail was unjustified when there was a “seamless system” under which a person could be imprisoned; a person could not be sent to jail if he could not afford to pay or in the middle of the proceedings
The Securities and Exchange Board of India’s counsel argued
* Roy was sent to jail for not enforcing the court order and not for contempt of court. He was sent to jail because he failed to come to the court on the ground that his mother was ill
* Rs 10,000 crore demanded from Roy is not bail bond but refund of the principal amount due to the investors
* Rejecting Sahara’s proposal, the Supreme Court bench told Sahara to file an application, to be considered on Wednesday