While approving the manner in which Sahara would furnish its bank guarantee, the Supreme Court on Friday directed that the group will have to pay the remaining liability it owes to the market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), within 18 months from the time its chief Subrata Roy is released.
Accepting the format of the bank guarantee brings Sahara a step closer to paying Roy’s bail.
Roy and two Sahara directors, in judicial custody since 4 March, need to deposit Rs.10,000 crore, half in cash and the rest in a bank guarantee.
A bench of justices T.S.Thakur, Anil R. Dave and A. K. Sikri enumerated conditions for the payment of the remaining liability of Rs.36,000 crore by Sahara within 18 months in nine instalments.
The first instalment has to be paid within two months of Roy’s release.
The court said that Roy would have to go back to jail if Sahara failed to pay any three instalments. Further, the Rs.5,000 crore bank guarantee would be liable to be encashed by Sebi if Sahara failed to pay any two instalments.
The court also asked the three Sahara officials to deposit their passports and seek the court’s permission before leaving the country.
The group can seek the court’s permission to sell any of its properties frozen by the court earlier.
While Roy’s release from Tihar jail is one of the primary focus of these hearings at present, the court has time and again emphasized that Sahara has to make payments, apart from the Rs.10,000 crore deposit.
Lawyer Kapil Sibal had in May sought the conditional release of Roy for six weeks in order to draw up a scheme for future payments.
In May, Sebi had told the court that Sahara has to refund nearly Rs.39,000 crore to it. Sahara has consistently disputed this sum. Sahara claims that it has refunded Rs.17,000 crore to about 30 million depositors directly.
Sahara has already deposited Rs.3,827 crore in cash with the Sebi Sahara Refund Account.
On 23 March, the apex court gave Sahara three months to raise Rs.10,000 crore, failing which it would arrange for selling off Sahara’s assets.
Sahara has filed a defamation case in a Patna court against Mint’s editor and some reporters over the newspaper’s coverage of the company’s dispute with Sebi. Mint is contesting the case.