Asks group to first deposit Rs. 10,000 crore; permits it to encash fixed deposits, bonds,securities

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to modify its March 26 order directing the Sahara Group to deposit Rs. 10,000 crore as a condition for the release of its chief, Subrata Roy, and two other directors lodged in jail since March 4.

A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and A.K. Sikri also turned down the prayer for shifting the contemnors to a guesthouse for continued custody and detention till they complied with the directions of the court for their release on interim bail.

The Bench, however, permitted Sahara to encash the fixed deposits, bonds and securities held by it, subject to the condition that the maturity value/sale consideration of such transactions should be deposited in the designated bank account of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The Bench allowed Sahara to sell its immovable properties in nine cities with an estimated value of Rs. 2,500 crore. The group has also been permitted to ‘charge’ its immovable properties in the Aamby Valley in Pune.

Soon after the order dismissing the bail applications was passed, Sahara’s counsel pleaded that a five-day parole be granted to Roy to enable him to be with his ailing 92-year-old mother. He said orders might be passed for the sale of three Sahara properties abroad.

Justice Thakur told counsel: “You are far away from implementing the order. You first sell the properties in India and transfer the amount and then we will see.”

On the question of parole, Justice Thakur asked counsel to file an appropriate application, which would be heard after seeking the response of SEBI.

Writing the order, Justice Thakur said: “We are not inclined to modify the March 26 order granting interim bail to the contemnors upon conditions stipulated in the said order. We say so because the background in which the contemnors came to be committed to the jail and the finding recorded by the court that they have at all earlier stages tried to adopt dilatory tactics and avoided complying with the orders passed by the court does not, in our view, call for any modification of the terms on which the contemnors can be released.”

The Bench said, “It is noteworthy that the total amount to be deposited is between Rs. 33,000 [crore] and Rs. 35,000 crore. To show their bona fides, the contemnors have been directed to deposit less than one-third of that amount as a condition for bail.”

Welcomes order

The Sahara Group welcomed the apex court order defreezing bank accounts to enable them to furnish the bail bond for Rs. 10,000 crore — Rs. 5,000 crore in cash and Rs. 5,000 crore by way of bank guarantee.

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