DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked Sahara group head Subrata Roy and two others why contempt proceedings be not initiated against them for allegedly trying to browbeat a senior Enforcement Directorate official who was investigating a maze of alleged illegal financial transactions of the group running into hundreds of crores of rupees, some of which related to the 2G spectrum scam.
Terming the petition filed by Rajeshwar Singh, an assistant director with ED, as maintainable, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, which has been monitoring investigations into the irregular allotment of 2G spectrum, said, "This court has got the constitutional obligation to examine the truth of the allegations as to whether the respondents are attempting to derail investigation which is being monitored by the court."
When the ED official was "threatened", he was investigating some serious alleged financial irregularities pertaining to the Sahara group, a few of which are:
* Sahara India Investment Corporation, now known as Sahara Prime City Ltd, allegedly invested Rs 14 crore on September 28, 2007 to purchase shares of S-Tel, the day the telecom company applied for 16 more licences. This investment was allegedly sold back on January 15, 2009 for Rs 16.80 crore. Summons issued to Roy.
* Sahara India Commercial Corporation Ltd paid Rs 9.50 crore to Sky City Foundation on July 6, 2007 as an advance which was in turn invested in S-Tel.
* Alleged rotation of Rs 150 crore through a maze of financial transactions between accounts of Sahara Corporation and Sahara India within the same bank and its branch.
* A Sahara group company gave a huge amount in pounds sterling to a company in Mauritius as a short-term loan and investment in hospitality sector. This amount was allegedly transferred under an automatic route through a bank in Mumbai and later transferred to a foreign country for acquisition of a property of a hotel company.
* In the Madhu Koda scam, ED officials suspected that a large amount of tainted money, which was proceeds of crime, had been invested in Sahara group companies by the accused with a view to show them as legitimate money.
ED official Singh said because he was investigating all these cases, a letter was sent by a reporter working with a Sahara group publication threatening to launch a campaign against him.
After holding the petition to be maintainable, the bench said, "We are of the view that if the allegations raised against the contemnors are accepted, then we have to conclude prima facie that there has been an attempt by the respondents to interfere with an investigation undertaken by the petitioner which is being monitored by the court."
It added, "We may point out that the allegations raised by the petitioner in the contempt petition are of very serious nature and, if proved, would amount to interference with the administration of justice, especially in a court monitored investigation. In a court monitored investigation, if the officer who is entrusted with the task of carrying out that investigation is experiencing any threat or pressure from any quarters, he is duty bound to report the same to the court monitoring the investigation."
Explaining why it was contemplating initiation of contempt of court proceedings against Roy, the bench said, "Law of contempt, as is often said, is only one of the many ways in which the due process of law is prevented from being perverted, hindered or thwarted to further the cause of justice."