Sahara proposes sale of 2 overseas hotels to raise Rs10,000 cr

The Supreme Court today once again refused to enlarge Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy on bail, but indicated that it was open to a reasonable compromise.

The Sahara Group today told the Supreme Court that it is willing to sell hotels located in New York and London to raise the Rs10,000 crore needed as initial payment for securing the release of its chief Subrata Roy from jail.

Subrata Roy The company said this in response to the apex court asking it to come out with a reliable and logical proposal on payment of Rs10,000 crore for release of Subrata Roy.

Meanwhile, a new bench comprising justices T S Thakur and A K Sikri constituted by the Supreme Court also refused to allow Sahara's plea for putting Roy under house arrest in either Lucknow or Mumbai in order to put him in a better position to raise the money, instead of keeping him in Tihar jail.

The bench said the Sahara conglomerate can sell one of the premium properties it owns to furnish the bond. The court is demanding Rs5,000 crore upfront and the same amount in bank guarantees before it is prepared to free Roy from his incarceration in Delhi's Tihar Jail.

"This stalemate helps no one, not the depositor. Make a finite proposal, which is logically acceptable," the bench said before listing the issue for further hearing next week.

"Sahara Pariwar is a big pariwar [family], they can do it [raise the money]," the judges said, acerbically invoking the group's repeated reference to it as a large, united family.

Sahara has earlier said it is willing to sell its hotels in New York and London to raise the Rs10,000 crore for its chairman's bail.

The apex court set up the new bench to hear the Sahara case after one member of the earlier bench, Justice K S Radhakrishnan, retired and the other member, Justice J S Kahar, recused himself from hearing the matter.

Both Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice JS Khehar had lambasrted Sahara group's five lawyers for lack of decorum and the conscious snubs against judges, bench hopping (avoiding continuous adjournments) and the use of every other conceivable trick.

The judges in their 240-page order, said they were intimidated by the company's lawyers, who wanted them to recuse.

In their order, the justices lambasted senior advocates Ram Jethmalani, Rajeev Dhawan, Rakesh Dwivedi, S Ganesh and Ravi Shankar Prasad for ''arm-twisting the bench''.

Justice Khehar was of the view that senior counsel Ram Jethmalani's submissions before the bench were intimidating in nature.

''He (Jetmalani) sought liberty to make a frank and candid submission. He told us that it would be embarrassing for him to canvass the submissions, which he is bound to raise before us. It was also his submission, that hearing this matter would also discomfort and embarrass us as well and therefore suggested that we should recuse ourselves from hearing the case, and require it to be heard by another composition, not including either of us,'' Justice Khehar wrote in the order.

Roy has been remanded in judicial custody since 4 March 2014, for not heeding court orders to refund investors and for not complying with the contempt proceedings initiated by market regulator SEBI.

Roy was arrested on 28 February after being accused by the Securities & Exchange Board of India of duping investors to the extent of Rs25,000 crore.

The core business of Sahara, which owns New York's Plaza Hotel and London's Grosvenor House, includes selling financial products, largely to small investors in towns and rural areas. Two such products have been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.