SC grants Subrata Roy another 15 days to seal hotel sales

Sahara group chief Subrata RoyIn a relief to the Sahara group chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court on Monday granted the jailed industrialist another 15 working days' stay at the conference hall of Tihar Jail, to negotiate the sale of assets, including three hotels abroad, so as to secure the Rs10,000 crore needed for his release.

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed the Sahara chief to use the conference hall in Tihar jail for negotiations till 9 September 2014.

Roy seems to have managed to convince the apex court on Friday for an extension of time, when he submitted that a deal with the Sultan of Brunei for the sale of his hotels abroad was on the verge of collapse because of a media leak (See: Sultan of Brunei not bidding for Sahara's hotels: report). He had sought another 15 days to conclude negotiations. 

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur allowed Sahara's application while also making it clear that he must close the deals by the extended period and it would be the last time he gets such an extension.

The Supreme Court had initially given the Sahara chief 10 days to talk to potential bidders for three hotels, including Grosvenor House in London and the New York Plaza, to raise the Rs10,000 crore needed for his bail.

Roy and two other directors are staying in the conference room of Delhi's Tihar Jail, which provides them with video-conferencing facilities to negotiate with prospective buyers of the group's three hotels in New York and London.

Roy's lawyer had earlier, in the middle of the negotiations, requested the court to extend his stay in the make-shift conference hall as negotiations for sale of overseas hotels were at a crucial stage.

The Sahara team has been given an office with 600 sq ft of space inside the Tihar jail complex, where they can hold video conferences, use computers and receive visitors.

Roy was jailed in March after he failed to appear at a contempt hearing in the long-running dispute with the capital markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) over the company's failure to refund over 25,000 collected from investors through illegal bonds (Will sell assets to raise money, Sahara chief Roy assures SC).

The Sahara group is yet to be formally charged and denies any wrongdoing.