SC set to unfreeze Sahara accounts for Roy's bail

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it was prepared to lift the freeze on the Sahara Group's bank accounts so that it can pay the Rs10,000 crore bail the apex court has set as bail for the release of its chief Subrata Roy.

Subrata RoySahara's lawyer arguing the case said the group was not able to pay the bail as the Supreme Court had frozen its bank accounts, to which the bench shot back, "You could have come to us for lifting the stay on operating bank accounts by mentioning the account numbers, but you didn't come.  Even now you tell us the account numbers we will lift the stay."

The court will resume the hearing today, as the Sahara chief continues to be held in Delhi's Tihar Jail.

Roy told the court that the trial conditions in the case were "impossible" and offered to be kept under house arrest once again till the bail money is paid. However the court did not respond to the plea.

Sahara will inform the Supreme Court of its bank account numbers today so that they can be unfrozen.

In the last hearing on 9 April the Supreme Court had refused to shift Roy to house arrest. Sahara lawyers had made a plea before the Supreme Court for release of the Sahara chief, saying that the group was looking for global buyers to sell its assets and no international buyer would like to visit the jail to negotiate a deal.

Roy, 65, was arrested on 28 February and has been held in Tihar Jail since 4 March after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running legal battle between the group and the Securities & Exchange Board of India over refund of crores to nearly 30 lakh investors.

The top court had earlier granted conditional bail to Roy, saying that he has to pay Rs5,000 crore in cash and provide another Rs5000 crore in bank guarantees. But Sahara Group had expressed its inability to pay the amount.

Sahara is best known as the former main sponsor of India's national cricket team, as well as owner of New York's Plaza Hotel and London's Grosvenor House. It has a net worth of $11 billion or around Rs66,000 crore and more than 36,000 acres of real estate, according to its website. It also co-owns the Sahara Force India Formula One auto racing team along with liquor baron Vijay Mallya.