In a breather to Sahara chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday extended his parole till 11 July to enable him to deposit Rs200 crore with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur however directed Roy and Sahara Group director Ashok Roy Choudhary, who were released on parole on 6 May for four weeks to attend rituals following the death of the Sahara chief's mother, to furnish individual undertakings to prove their "bona fides".
Roy has been in Delhi's Tihar Jail since 4 March 2014 on the orders of the apex court in relation to a long-running dispute with market regulator Sebi.
"We are inclined to give one chance to Subrata Roy and Ashok Roy Choudhary to prove their offer to deposit 200 crore by 11 July.
"We, accordingly, direct that the 6 May order would continue till 11 July subject to the individual undertaking being furnished by them," the bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, said.
If they fail to deposit Rs200 crore with Sebi by 11 July, they will have to surrender and go back to Tihar Jail, the court said in its order.
It also said Roy and Choudhary were free to meet prospective buyers of properties and move within the country under police escort as per the 6 May order.
It also ordered that Sebi would meanwhile continue with the auction of properties of Sahara.
The bench also said Sahara can go ahead with the sale and alienation of their other properties to raise the amount of Rs5,000 crore as a bank guarantee they have to deposit in addition to Rs5,000 crore to get bail.
The order was passed after the submission of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan on behalf of Roy, which did not see any objection from Sebi's senior counsel Arvind Datar.
However, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who is appointed as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court, said there are questions as to why Sahara was averse to sale of the Aamby Valley and overseas hotels.
'So rich, yet so poor?'
The bench noted that the fresh list of properties provided in a sealed cover speaks that "value of your properties was far more than your liability".
"Why person with this kind of fortune shall be hesitant to make payment?" the bench asked.
Sibal replied, "What is your fear? I will run away. I am going to give an undertaking that I will get Rs500 crore in two months".
At the outset, Datar filed a status report indicating the progress made in the sale of properties belonging to the Sahara Group.
During the proceedings, Sibal submitted details of all the properties of Sahara group in India and abroad in a sealed cover and requested the court not to disclose the details of properties.
When the court saw the list of Roy's assets it expressed surprise why "such a rich person didn't pay a fraction of his wealth and stayed in jail for two years".
Seeking extension of interim parole for Roy till 4 August, Sibal said the Sahara chief has already spent more than two years in jail and his client was ready to give an undertaking that he would pay a substantial amount of money in a span of 180 days.
"We have already suffered a lot. We have learnt the lesson. We have done everything we could do. We have even authorised SEBI to sell our properties at circle rates. Give us an opportunity. Give me a chance, I will arrange the money once I come out," Sibal said.
For the interim bail of 67-year-old Roy, the court had put conditions like depositing Rs5,000 crore in cash and a bank guarantee of equal amount and tough terms including payment of the entire Rs36,000 crore, which includes interest. The money will be paid back to the investors of Sahara.