The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Sahara group, asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for not implementing the August 31, 2012 directions of the court on refund of Rs. 24,000 crore to depositors.
A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and J.S. Khehar was acting on a contempt petition filed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India, which complained that the Sahara group had flouted the court’s directions and had not submitted documents to it (SEBI).
While seeking its response in four weeks, the Bench exempted the contemnors — the managing director and directors of the Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and the Sahara Housing Investment Corporation, and the companies as well — from personal appearance at the next hearing. Justice Radhakrishnan told counsel Pratap Venugopal, appearing for the SEBI: “Our directions were very clear. Our judgment provided for consequences. What steps are you taking? You are not taking any action. The judgment tells you what you should do but you are not doing it.”
When the Bench wanted to know why no step was taken for freezing Sahara’s accounts, counsel said the SEBI had issued notice to the companies and approached a civil court in Mumbai for freezing their bank accounts. Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Issuing notice is not enough. Why did you give notice and did not take action? You have to execute our order.”
The Bench made it clear that pendency of the contempt proceedings would not come in the way of the SEBI taking action against Sahara.
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the Sahara group, said it had deposited Rs. 5,120 crore on December 5 last. However, another Bench (headed by the CJI) directed it to pay the remaining amount of Rs. 20, 000 crore in two equal instalments, in January and February this year. Counsel said the entire amount had been redeemed to investors and nothing was due.