The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Sahara chief Subrata Roy to pay Rs 552 crore to honour the cheque given to Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) by July 15 or face consequences. Shooting down senior counsel Kapil Sibal’s plea for more time for his client Roy to pay his dues, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said: “We are absolutely disinclined to request for extending time. Sebi is directed to produced the cheque in the relevant account. If dishonoured, the contemnor shall face the consequences.” The cheque is dated July 15.
The court noted that it had given opportunities in the past to the businessman to pay up but he was only paying in fractions. The bench suggested that he sell his prestigious Aamby Valley property and make good the amount. “The principal amount he has to pay is Rs 9,000 crore. At this rate of Rs 400-500 crore, it will take a lifetime. Sell Aamby Valley. Finish it,” said Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
But Sibal opposed this and said the situation post demonetisation was not conducive for the sale and it will only cause irreparable loss to his client. ‘’Please see the situation on the ground. We are not allowed to do any business at all… Why should I sell it to vultures?” Sibal asked. However, the court said: “We are not inclined to grant any indulgence”.
The hearing also saw former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohtagi appear for Sahara Housing and moot for more time to Roy to pay up. He said there will be no harm in waiting for a month more. On the previous date of hearing on June 19, the SC had extended the time for Roy to pay
Rs 709.82 crore of the Rs 1,500 crore by July 4. On Wednesday, the court noted that the businessman had kept his commitment and had paid a total of Rs 1,500.4 crore when the deadline ended on Tuesday.
The court meanwhile also accepted the terms and conditions and the draft proclamation drawn up by the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court for auction of Sahara’s Aamby Valley properties. The bench indicated that it might even go ahead with the auction if Roy failed to pay up as directed. The matter will be heard next on July 20.
Roy has spent almost two years in jail and been on parole since May 6 last year. The parole was granted the first time to enable him attend the funeral of his mother. It has been extended since then.
Besides Roy, two other directors — Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary — were arrested for failure of the group’s two companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) – to comply with the court’s August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors. Director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.