NEW DELHI: The Sahara group's inability to raise Rs 10,000 crore, half in cash and half through bank guarantee, to seek release of its chief Subrata Roy and two directors from jail made the Supreme Court on Monday think aloud about the possibility of appointing a receiver for the group.
"Let the property be taken over and let a receiver manage the property and give us a report. They (Roy and the two directors) seem incapable of generating the amount for their release. It is not a very happy situation. The way its proceeding, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere," a bench of Justices T S Thakur, A R Dave and A K Sikri said. It asked market regulator Sebi to file an application on this.
Roy and the two directors were taken into custody on March 4 last year for their repeated failure to comply with the SC's earlier orders directing two group companies to refund Rs 24,000 crore to nearly three crore investors. It had granted them bail on March 26 provided they furnished Rs 5,000 crore in cash and Rs 5,000 crore through bank guarantee to Sebi.
The bench asked why Roy had not been able to raise the money despite claiming to have huge tracts of land. "One thing that is troubling us is that there is one person who is sitting on Rs 185,000 crore and he tells us that he owns so much yet he is not able to pay. A person who is so blessed with money, he is sacrificing his liberty. It seems you are in jail by choice," the bench said.
Roy's counsel kapil Sibal said it was difficult to raise the money with head of the group behind bars. He pleaded with the court to release Roy on humanitarian ground. But the court refused, saying it would not be possible without Roy meeting the bail condition.
The bench asked Sibal, "These companies have board of directors. Is it so important that one individual's inability should stop the company from paying?"
The group has so far deposited nearly Rs 3,800 crore and is short by Rs 1,200 crore of the cash component of the bail condition.
After court proceedings, a Sahara statement said the court had appreciated the difficulties it faced in selling the properties in the current scenario.
Sibal argued in court that the SC's order to pay the outstanding amount was hindering the effort to raise the money needed to comply with bail conditions. He said the sale of properties too faced rough weather.
He explained how a buyer for its Chauma property had gone back on the deal to deposit Rs 700 crore while the Vasai property bidder sought extension of three months for paying Rs 850 crore.
On the Gorakhpur property, the bench had finalized the deal by awarding the land to a Gorakhpur-based real estatedeveloper for Rs 152 crore. This amount is to be deposited with Sebi before November 30.
The court will next hear the matter on September 14.