Matter posted for further hearing on May 8
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, stayed all further proceedings initiated by Sahara group before the SEBI Appellate Tribunal and the Allahabad High Court relating to attachment of properties of Sahara and its directors.
A Bench of Justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and J. S. Khehar passed this order on an application from SEBI seeking transfer of these cases to the Supreme Court.
The Bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by SEBI, and an application seeking the arrest of Sahara promoter Subrata Roy and two directors, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey.
The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on May 8.
Appearing for SEBI, senior counsel Arvind Datar submitted that Sahara group and its two companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIREC) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHIC) — were approaching different forums for delaying the implementation of the August 2012 order directing return of about Rs.24,000 crore to the depositors.
He said the Sahara group and its promoter Mr. Roy were making ‘mockery’ of Supreme Court’s order directing them to refund the deposits to over three crore investors.
He said despite the order that the two companies should refund the deposits only through SEBI, they had filed affidavits stating that they had directly redeemed deposits to the tune of Rs.4,800 crore, which was a clear case of contempt. He said although names of around 6,000 Kalawatis were not there in the materials supplied by Sahara, “there are 1,433 Anirudh Singhs in the list whom the group claimed to have refunded money 34 times.”
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for Sahara group, said the contempt petition was not at all maintainable. Mr. Jethmalani quoting a newspaper report said “there is a serious atmosphere of prejudice prevalent against the Sahara group as SEBI is leaking information to media on investors.” Justice Radhakrishan made it clear to the counsel “every day cases are discussed in the media. We do not get prejudiced by such reports. We will strictly go by the law.”
In its petition seeking transfer of cases pending in other forums, SEBI said “against an order dated February 1 passed by SEBI, instead of moving this Court, the two Sahara companies, its promoter and the three directors have filed four appeals before SEBI appellate tribunal. Sahara India, a partnership firm of Sahara Group, along with its partner O. P. Srivastava, filed a writ petition before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, instead of moving this Court.”
SEBI said it would be just, expedient and in the interest of justice that these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court, and the pending proceedings were stayed in the meanwhile.