SC sets hefty conditions for Sahara chief's bail

The judgment said once Mr. Roy is released on bail he has 18 months to repay his depositors his total liability of Rs. 36, 000 crore.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:55 pm IST

Published - June 19, 2015 11:56 am IST - New Delhi

Subrata Roy, founder and chairman of the Sahara India Pariwar. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Subrata Roy, founder and chairman of the Sahara India Pariwar. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Spelling no immeditae relief for beleagured Sahara group chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court on Friday held that he cannot be released on bail until he pays Rs. 5,000 crore in cash and an equal amount in bank guarantees.

Mr. Roy has been in Tihar jail for over a year.

However, things touched ground zero for Mr. Roy when his counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal informing the court that the bank has "backed out" from giving the guarantee and there is no money currently for his release.

The three-judge Bench led by Justice T.S. Thakur said this judgment making his release conditional on payment of guarantee was drafted on the assurance given by Sahara that they had the bank guarantees ready. "Yes but the bank backed out after media reports came out on the proceedings," Mr. Sibal replied. The lawyer added that it would be difficult for Mr. Roy to pay up without first getting released from jail.

Justice A.K.Sikri, who authored the verdict, said the judgment has already been passed, indicating to Mr. Sibal that nothing can be done now until Sahara chooses to pay up. The judgment said once Mr. Roy is released on bail, whenever that is, he has 18 months to repay his depositors his total liability of Rs. 36, 000 crore.

The court said this payment should be made in the instalments of Rs. 3000 crore in every two months. Default of two months will land Mr. Roy back in jail. The court further refused Mr. Roy's application for parole, but agreed to extend conference room facilities for him inside Tihar for a period of eight weeks so that he can negotiate with prospective buyers and find money to pay for his bail.

Mr. Roy is in jail since March 2014 unable to pay Rs. 10,000 crore for his bail. The Bench while reserving the case for judgment in mid-May, had sought details on how the group proposes to proceed with the sale of its assets and payment to the SEBI.

The apex court on August 31, 2012 had said the group was required to refund Rs 24,000 crore with 15 per cent interest in three months to the depositors. It had on March 26, 2014 asked 65-year-old Roy to pay Rs 10,000 crore to get bail, out of which Rs 5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest in bank guarantees.

During the last hearing, a battery of senior lawyers led by Kapil Sibal sought release of Roy from jail saying that he will be submitting a scheme on repayment in July and he can be sent back he defaults.

“As a goodwill gesture, please release him. Please give six weeks time to him and he be sent back to jail if he does not do the needful,” Sibal said, adding “keeping him in jail does not serve any body’s purpose”.

“Please do not feel that we are insensitive… and for last 16 months, we had been asking your client about the payment of money. This is not an ordinary case and its a case of its own kind. This man is in jail for the last 16 months…how do you ensure that money is recovered…,” the Bench had responded during the hearing.

The court had also earlier permitted Mr. Roy to use facilities like the conference room in Tihar jail complex to hold negotiations with potential buyers to sell his three luxury hotels–Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London–to raise Rs 10,000 crore to get regular bail.

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