The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined Sahara chief Subrata Roy's plea to put him under house arrest but allowed the company to sell properties, encash its fixed deposits and mortgage immovable properties in Aamby valley to mobilise Rs 10,000 crore to secure his release.
Roy has been in jail since March 4 after he failed to appear before SC pursuant to its direction in a long-pending litigation between the company and market regulator SEBI over Sahara's inability to refund over Rs 20,000 crore to its investors. In October 2012, SC had declared Sahara's two financial schemes as invalid, directing the company to return the money to the depositors.
The newly constituted bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice AK Sikri also rejected the company's request to modify the conditions for Roy's bail. SC had on March 26 granted bail to Roy but not before submitting Rs 5,000 crore in cash and an equal amount of bank guarantee.
"We are very thankful that today we got clearances of bank accounts and certain select properties. However the fact remains that Sahara has already repaid 93% of the investors mostly in cash, and has submitted all the repayment vouchers, receipts and other documents in original with SEBI, which SEBI has to verify," said Sahara's advocate Sudip Seth.
"The prayer for shifting the contemnor outside the jail is dismissed," said the court, giving a go-ahead to Sahara to sell its immovable properties in nine cities in India. The order made it clear that no property would be sold below the circle rate and buyers should not be "connected or related" to the group.
"The seller shall furnish to this Court the details of the valuation of the properties sold and the terms of sales together with a declaration that the purchasers are not a related party qua Saharas. Needless to say that upon deposit of the sale consideration, the title deeds of the property shall be released by SEBI in favour of the purchaser(s)," the court said.
Regarding the bank guarantee, the court said either it should given from a nationalized or a scheduled bank. Bank guarantee of a cooperative bank will not suffice. Dealing with the issue of sale of equities held by Sahara group in three offshore hotels, the bench said it is keeping the issue open as the group has to file an affidavit relating to its communication with the Bank of China which had lent it money.