Almost a month after Sahara chief Subrata Roy was arrested, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it had sent him to jail not as a punishment, but to ensure that its order on refunding investors’ money was complied with.
Earlier in the day, Sahara Group expressed its inability to pay the Rs 10,000 crore for securing the release of Roy and its other two directors, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary. It told the court that it could pay Rs 2,500 crore immediately and another Rs 2,500 crore within 21 days. The court asked Sahara to file its proposal for consideration.
“The task you (court) have given us (of depositing Rs 10,000 crore) is virtually impossible to achieve. We are not in a position to pay the amount the court wants. This is the best we can do,” the Sahara counsel argued.
The bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar said, “We have clarified this in para after para in our order of March 4 that this (the arrests) is not a punishment. We are not on the matter of punishment right now. We passed that order only to ensure enforcement of our orders.”
The court said it was incorrect to say that Roy and the other two Sahara directors, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, had been jailed for contempt of court since it was still hearing the bunch of petitions filed by SEBI alleging contempt by the company for not refunding the money on time.
“We will deal with the punishment for contempt of court only when we conclude the hearing. We will also decide the punishment, but only after we see our order has been enforced. So, the suggestion regarding a maximum of six months in jail under contempt charges is irrelevant at this stage,” it observed.
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The bench also said that the Rs 10,000 crore was not security money to be deposited as bail bond, but a clause of being satisfied with the bonafide of Roy. “It is incorrect to say that Rs 10,000 crore is a bail bond. We said it was a part payment of the money required to be deposited. The money is towards releasing the part payment. It will show their bonafide,” it said.
Meanwhile, SEBI counsel Arvind Datar said the court was authorised to send them to jail to ensure that its orders are not flouted. Roy and the other two directors have been in judicial custody since March 4.