In civil prison under judicial custody since March 4, Sahara group chief Subrata Roy’s lawyers are likely to mention his case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday and seek urgent hearing in the matter relating to refund of Rs 20,000 crore by two Sahara companies to market regulator Sebi.
The lawyers are planning to mention it on Wednesday before a bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan seeking early hearing after the court adjourned hearing of the case, which was scheduled for Tuesday, without giving reasons.
Roy and his counsel were peeved by the continued incarceration without a finding of guilt or any determination of Roy’s role in the alleged default of refund by Sahara Real Estate and Sahara Housing in alleged contempt of the August 31, 2012 judgment of the apex court.
The counsel, including senior advocates Ram Jethmalani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, C A Sundaram and S Ganesh, were of the view that detaining Roy in civil prison in judicial custody was per se against the law and breached his right to life and liberty in the absence of a court finding about the fault for which he was liable to be arrested and lodged in prison.
A section of Roy’s legal team was also in favour of challenging the court’s March 4 order directing his detention in Delhi as they felt the contempt proceedings had not been concluded and there was no finding by the court about Roy’s involvement and role in the alleged non-payment of money to Sebi.
Moreover, they felt the court had ordered Roy’s detention till March 11 and that order had not been extended since the scheduled hearing was cancelled. In the absence of any order extending Roy’s detention beyond March 11, would it be legally permissible to keep him in civil prison, they asked.
A bench of Justices Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar had on March 4 ordered detention of Roy and two other Sahara directors – Ashok Roychaudhury and Ravishankar Dubey – and sent them to judicial custody in Delhi. It did not send another contemnor, Sahara director Vandana Bhargava, to custody and said she would coordinate with the detained persons to come out with a better refund proposal.
The bench permitted the contemnors to mention the matter for advancing the date of hearing if they had a “concrete and acceptable proposal to offer”. The Sahara firms attempted to do this on March 7 but the court rejected the fresh refund proposal.
On March 4, the court had trashed Roy’s claim that vast majority of investors had been paid back their money. It had said, “Documents and affidavits produced by the contemnors themselves would apparently falsify their refund theory and cast serious doubts about the existence of so-called investors. All the fact finding authorities have opined that majority of investors do not exist.”
Explaining the harsh step it was forced to take, the court had said, “Preservation of market integrity is extremely important for economic growth of this country for national interest. Maintaining investors’ confidence requires market integrity and control of market abuse. Market abuse is a serious financial crime which undermines the very financial structure of this country and will make imbalance in wealth between haves and have-nots.”