The Supreme Court, on Monday, pulled up the Sahara group for not furnishing details of the depositors to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and made it clear that if there were untraced depositors in the total deposits of about Rs.24,000 crore, the money should be remitted to the Central Government.
A Bench of Justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and J. S. Khehar granted a week’s time to Sahara to file its response to the contempt petition filed by SEBI, and an application seeking the arrest of Sahara promoter Subrata Roy and two directors, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey. The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on May 2.
Appearing for SEBI, senior counsel Arvind Dattar submitted that the Sahara group and its two companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIREC) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHIC) — had not followed the provisions of the Companies Act and were yet to give full details for the depositors. The details given by them were vague. They had not responded to the notice issued in the contempt petition, and an affidavit filed in April for the arrest of the promoter and two directors. He also explained how they were filing petitions in the Allahabad High Court against the SEBI Appellate Tribunal’s order, directing attachment of properties.
When senior Counsel Ariama Sundaram appearing for Mr. Roy submitted that SEBI was attaching Mr. Roy’s personal property though he was not a party in the case, Mr. Justice Khehar observed “We are not interested in parties. If you have approached the High Court, then it is contempt of this court. You are not co-operating with SEBI, and you are not obeying our order. You are manipulating the courts. I am surprised at what you are doing. You have to file your reply and not sit and relax. It is very strange that you seek extension of time from SEBI after Supreme Court’s order, and you file appeal after appeal. You must remedy your mistakes instead of repeating the mistakes.”
Mr. Justice Radhakrishan, expressing his anguish, said “if your attempt to overreach the orders of this court, it is contempt. SEBI has its obligations to fulfil.” When Mr. Sundaram submitted that details of the depositors had been furnished to SEBI, Mr. Dattar disputed this and said the documents supplied to the Supreme Court and those supplied to the appellate tribunal were different and sale deeds were not furnished.
Mr. Justice Radhakrishnan made it clear to SEBI that it was not its job to trace the depositors. If the documents were not supplied and the depositors could not be traced, the money should go to the government, he added.
When Mr. Dattar insisted that the court should order the personal appearance of Mr. Roy and two directors and that they should be ordered to be arrested, Mr. Justice Khehar, at one stage, asked an undertaking from Mr. Sundaram that Mr. Roy would not leave the country. But however, refrained from passing any order and granted time to Sahara to file its response. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 2.