With the Supreme Court declining to hear his plea to recall its non-bailable arrest warrant, Sahara chief Subrata Roy Friday surrendered to the Lucknow Police and was arrested in connection with the contempt case arising out of two of his companies failing to refund a staggering Rs 20,000 crore to investors.
After evading police for two days, Roy, 65, issued a statement and called them to his home in Sahara city in the Vipul Khand area of Gomti Nagar. In the two-page statement, he claimed he was not absconding and was ready to “unconditionally” follow the Supreme Court’s direction.
After his arrest, he remained in his house for around six hours and was taken to the court of chief judicial magistrate Anand Kumar, which sat specially on Friday as it was closed for Shivratri. Kumar rejected Roy’s request to keep him under house arrest and remanded him to police custody until he is produced in the Supreme Court Tuesday. The CJM said it was the police’s responsibility to produce Roy in the Supreme Court by the deadline of 2 pm on March 4 for alleged contempt for non-appearance on Thursday.
Although the court did not specify where Roy should be lodged until Tuesday, ASP (Trans-Gomti) Habibul Hasan said he would be kept at the forest department guest house inside the Kukrail reserve forest, near the popular Kukrail picnic spot on the outskirts of Lucknow.
The forest area also houses a deer park, a crocodile nursery and a cafeteria. A forest department officer said the guesthouse is used by department officers and also taken over by the government from time to time. “I have no answer to this question,” Deputy SP Vidya Sagar Mishra, who led the team that arrested Roy, said when asked why he had been taken to the forest guest house.
Minutes after his arrest, Roy’s son Seemanto addressed a hurriedly-called press conference in Delhi and said his father was cooperating with the authorities and had willfully submitted before the police.
Seemanto also said the arrest would not impact the business of the group, which claims to have a net worth of over Rs 68,000 crore and lakhs of employees. Roy’s lawyer V K Shahi said Roy had written to the Lucknow SSP at 8.30 am Friday saying he was present at home and police teams reached there and arrested him at 10.05 am.
The Sahara chief, accompanied by his son Sushanto Roy, was taken to court in a police vehicle around 5 pm in a convoy which also included vehicles of Sahara officials who followed Roy to court. Appearing for Roy in the Supreme Court, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani pleaded before a bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen that the NBW issued by the court on February 26 be recalled.
Jethmalani’s request to the bench for assembling the special bench to hear his application was also turned down. The Sahara chief had Thursday approached the Supreme Court tendering an “unconditional apology” for his non-appearance in the contempt case and seeking the NBW’s recall. Roy had sought exemption from personal appearance on the ground that his 92-year-old mother is very ill. Moving the apex court a day after it issued the NBW to be executed by March 4, Roy admitted he had “erred” by his non-appearance under a bonafide belief that the court would permit him personal exemption from appearance for one day. Besides seeking recall of the NBW, Roy also sought a stay on the operation of its order during pendency of his plea.