SC reprimands Sahara chief for `manipulating courts'

Subrata RoyThe Supreme Court today reprimanded Sahara group and its promoter Subrata Roy for not refunding Rs24,000 crore to its investors and instead "manipulating courts" by approaching different fora for relief.

A bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar also pulled up the group and its chief for not responding to SEBI's contempt plea filed against them.

The court issued notice to Roy and two other directors of the group companies - Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey - as to why they should not be detained to recover investors' money, on the basis of market regulator's plea.

The bench even came close to passing orders to prevent Roy leaving the country as sought by SEBI's counsel, but refrained from doing so and granted a week's time to him and the two group companies to file their response.

Sahara India had moved the Allahabad high court after the Supreme Court passed an order for attaching the properties of the two Sahara group companies if they failed to deposit Rs24,000 with the market regulator, according to SEBI.

"You are manipulating courts, which is going on," the bench said in response to Sahara's counsel submission that SEBI is attaching Roy's personal property despite his being not a party to the refund case.

"We are not interested in parties. If you have done this (moving HC) then it is a contempt of this court. Even approaching SEBI is contempt. It is very strange that you seek extension of time from SEBI after Supreme Court's order and you file appeal after appeal," the bench said, adding "You must remedy your mistakes instead of repeating the mistakes.''

Senior advocate Arvind Dattar, appearing for SEBI, argued that Roy was very much part of the SC order, which had also indicted Sahara India.

He submitted that Sahara group and its two companies - Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIREC) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHIC) - have not followed the provision of Companies Act and details of investors given by them is vague.

The bench said SEBI may keep deposits of the money of untraced investors of Sahara but it was not for the market regulator to verify the addresses of untraced investors.

"If they (Sahara) don't give the documents relating to investors then you (SEBI) can keep the money, which will go to the government. They will have to give you the genuine information. You don't have to search for documents," the bench told SEBI's counsel.

The Supreme Court had already dismissed Sahara's plea for more time to refund the amount.