The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of Sahara chief Subrata Roy for his production in court on March 4 over the group’s failure to refund investors’ money.
“We issue non-bailable warrant of arrest qua Mr Subrata Roy Sahara, alleged contemnor No. 5. He shall be arrested and produced before this court on March 4, 2014 at 2 pm,” said a Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar.
Dismissing his counsel Ram Jethmalani’s request for excusing Roy from personally appearing before the court in view of his mother’s ill health, the Bench said, “Since, we have already declined to grant exemption from personal presence of alleged contemnor No. 5 (Roy) on February 25, we find no reason to accede to the renewal of the request made today.”
It noted that the medical certificate adduced to show his mother’s health condition was issued by the Sahara Hospital in Lucknow. “In our view, the factual position indicated therein does not solicit the exemption sought,” said the Bench.
“The arms of this court are very long. We will get him here if he does not want to come on his own. If other directors can come, why can’t he? Yesterday only we had refused your plea for exemption from personal appearance. All this is going on for last two years. We are issuing non-bailable warrant now,” it said.
Jethmalani protested, saying the court did not require Roy’s presence at all. “It is not a case where this court needs to do anything harsh against him. What is his fault? He is sitting by his mother’s bedside, holding her hands because she is dying,” he said.
He invoked Justice Robert H Jackson of the US, citing his description of the Supreme Court — “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.”
But the Bench told him that Roy was being called so that he gets to know “this is serious”. The Bench also ordered three other directors of the group, Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Vandana Bhargava, to be present on the next date of hearing.
The Bench asked if the Sahara Group had any other offer to make regarding refund of money to its investors. Jethmalani said his briefing counsel was not available so he was not in a position to make any statement.
Another counsel for the group, C A Sundaram, told the court that the third party companies, whose title deeds of various properties remained with Sebi, were willing to pass a resolution to make them saleable. The bench posted the matter for March 4.
Incensed over non-compliance of its orders to refund investors, the court had on February 20 summoned Roy and directors of Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd and Sahara India Housing Investment Corp Ltd. It is hearing Sebi’s contempt petitions against Sahara for its failure to refund Rs 24,000 crore to its investors.