SC orders Sahara chief Roy's arrest for avoiding court appearance

Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy The Supreme Court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy for his failure to appear in court today in contravention of an earlier order, and has ordered the police to arrest him and produce him in court on 4 March.

The court had on 20 February ordered Roy along with three other directors of Sahara Real Estate and Sahara Housing - Shankar Dubey, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Vandana Bhargava - to appear before it today; and subsequently rejected Roy's his request for exemption from personal appearance on the ground of illness of his 95-year-old mother.

The case relates to the non-compliance by the two firms with the SC's judgment of 31 August 2012 under which they were to deposit Rs24,000 crore with the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to repay nearly three crore investors. These were mostly small investors who were allegedly duped with promises of unreal returns.

On Tuesday, Roy through senior advocate Ram Jethmalani requested a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar for exemption from personal appearance, while assuring that the other directors would be present in court. The bench told Jethmalani that it was not going to modify any of its earlier orders, adding that the "rule of law has to be maintained" (See:  SC summons Sahara chief Subrata Roy, rejects exemption plea).

When Jethmalani today repeated his plea that "his (Roy's) mother is ill and he has to be with his mother", the bench sharply replied, "The arms of this court are very long. Yesterday you made a similar request. We declined. Today you are making the same request. When other directors have appeared, why can't he?"

The Supreme Court added, "For the last two years, we granted him exemption from personal appearance."

Earlier, the Supreme Court had barred Roy from travelling abroad.

Stock market regulator SEBI and Sahara are locked in a long-running legal tussle over the refund of Rs24,000 crore by its two companies (Sahara seeks review of SC order to refund Rs24,000-cr to investors).

SEBI says the funds were raised illegally and the Supreme Court in August 2012 had ordered Sahara to refund the money raised from investors with interest.

Sahara said it had deposited nearly Rs5,000 crore with Sebi and refunded the rest of the money directly to investors, a claim rejected by SEBI. The Supreme Court had asked Sahara to produce documents pertaining to the source of money it claims to have repaid investors.

The top court had also asked Sahara to deposit the original title deeds of properties worth Rs20,000 crore with SEBI as a guarantee towards the payment of investors' money. Sahara was also restrained from selling any property.