SC gives Sahara last chance to raise money for Subrata bail

The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Sahara Group a third and last opportunity to negotiate a deal for selling its offshore properties to raise Rs10,000 crore for the bail its chief Subrata Roy, who has been in jail for a year for non-refund of over Rs20,000 crore to depositors.

The apex court, which was inclined to appoint a court receiver for alienating the assets of the Group, refrained from passing such an order after Sahara's newly-engaged senior counsel Kapil Sibal pleaded for another chance to comply with the directions.

"We are inclined to accept the submission of the senior counsel, and therefore we grant another opportunity to negotiate the proposed deal.

"The outline of the proposed deal has to be shared within a week with the Sebi (Securities & Exchange Board of India) and the amicus curiae," a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said while hinting that two to three months' time can be given for working out the proposed deal.

However, the bench declined a plea for extension of special facilities to Roy in Tihar Jail precincts to negotiate the proposed deals.

It only agreed to extend the time of two hours a day earlier allowed to interact with potential buyers by another three hours, keeping in view the international time zones, with the facility of two laptops and mobile phones.

The bench said the facility of using the conference room in Tihar Jail cannot be extended till the "seriousness" of the proposed deal gets examined by the market regulator Sebi and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter.

The bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, agreed with Sahara's plea that the proposed deal should be maintained confidential by Sebi and the amicus curiae.

 Sibal also accepted that the outline of the proposed deal shall be furnished to the Sebi and amicus curiae along with all required documents to demonstrate that it is a "serious attempt".

The bench noted that two earlier attempts to negotiate the deal in the past had to be aborted and the "third and final chance was being given to Sahara to generate the required money to discharge the order of this court".

It also said previous orders passed from time to time to negotiate the proposed deals did not fructify and it was in this background there was an inclination to appoint court receiver to take over and sell the group's properties.

The apex court had asked 65-year-old Roy to pay Rs10,000 crore to get bail, of which Rs5,000 crore should be paid in cash and rest in bank guarantees.

The day's hearing also witnessed a blame game between Sahara Group and Mirach Capital for the failure of the second proposed deal.

Senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for the Sahara Group, made an attempt to blame Mirach Capital and a 32-year-old man, Saransh Sharma, who was acting as its front, for the failure of the deal which was mired in controversy due to forgery of some documents.

However, two counsels, who were watching the proceedings on behalf of Mirach, vigorously protested and submitted that senior advocate should make any statement with some responsibility and Mirach was ready to explain the entire episode in an affidavit.