In a fresh dramatic twist to the Sebi-Sahara saga, an innovative idea was floated on Friday for collection of at least Rs. 1 lakh each from Sahara employees and 'well-wishers' to garner at least Rs. 5,000 crore and secure group chief Subrata Roy's release from Tihar Jail.
The money has been proposed to be collected in lieu of shares in Saharayn e-Multipurpose Society Ltd, which would be alloted to each contributing employee of the entertainment-to retail business conglomerate, which claims to have a workforce of over 11 lakh salaried and field workers.
The contribution 'appeal' was made through a one-page letter signed by directors of this Society and 'associates' of the group and asked each employee of the Sahara India Pariwar and their well-wishers to contribute Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 2 lakh, Rs. 3 lakh or even more as per their wish and capacity.
When contacted, a senior Sahara official clarified that the letter has not been issued by Subrata Roy or by the management and "it is only an emotional initiative from people in reaction to prevailing situation".
He said that this should not be construed as Sahara group or the management asking its workers to make any contribution.
"As Saharasri (the name by which Roy is called in the group) has build this organisation as Pariwar or family, lots of such letters are coming from through out the country. Hope this unique sentiment for the chief guardian of our Pariwar would be understood," he added.
Roy, 65, has been in Tihar jail since March 4 and the Supreme Court earlier this month proposed a conditional interim bail for him asking the group to deposit Rs. 10,000 crore including Rs. 5,000 crore as bank guarantee.
However, the group's lawyers informed the court yesterday that they were finding it difficult to immediately mobilise such a large amount to get Roy and two directors out on bail.
The lawyers also submitted that the apex court's order for detaining Roy for not paying Rs. 20,000 crore of investors money with SEBI was illegal and unconstitutional and sought quashing of this order.
Appearing for Roy and the group, advocates also told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, which had passed detention order, that its approach is "biased" and it should not hear the petition challenging the order.
Sahara group, which says that it has already refunded bulk of the money due to investors in the Sebi case, claims to have total networth of over Rs. 68,000 crore and assets totalling more than Rs. 1.5 lakh crore.
A Sahara lawyer yesterday said that an embargo has been imposed on sale of assets, while bank accounts of entire Sahara Group have already been frozen by Sebi.
"Further, the title deeds of assets having value over Rs. 20,000 crore are lying with Sebi only. If case by case the court allows to sell assets, it will be a distress sale which would not fetch more than 20-25 per cent of the real value of the asset. Moreover, money from the sale of bigger assets will only come in long term installments in view of Indian financial strength," he had said in a statement.