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SC to hear Roy’s plea for shift to Tihar jail outhouse


New Delhi, July 24:

The Supreme Court will hear a plea by Sahara group chief Subrata Roy and its two other directors to be shifted to an outhouse within the Tihar Jail premises to facilitate the sale of the group’s domestic and overseas properties to raise Rs.10,000 crore as a part payment of investors money collected by two group companies in 2008-09.

Subrata Roy, Sahara Chief
Subrata Roy, Sahara Chief

A bench headed by Justice T.S. Thakur said a copy of Roy’s application be served on Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar as senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi mentioned the matter before the court Thursday.

Tulsi told the court that Roy had to negotiate with proposed buyers based in countries spread over five time zones.

The part payment of Rs.10,000 crore is also a condition for the release of Roy and group’s two other directors Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary who are in judicial custody since March 4.

The court wanted to know if the outhouse facility was available in the jail premises and if jail authorities were inclined to give it to Roy. Sahara has offered to pay for it.

The application by Ray and two other directors says that they be shifted from “Barrack No 3 of Tihar Jail to the outhouse in the Tihar Jail Premises so that they may enter into effective and fruitful negotiations with the prospective buyers/lenders for the sale/encumbrance of domestic and three overseas properties of the group companies at the earliest,” to comply with the court’s orders of March 26 and July 22.

Besides a shift to an outhouse, the application by Roy urged the court to allow “three secretarial persons for full 24 hours to assist the applicants along with the office equipment” including phone service or laptop/computer and video conferencing on a big screen.

WIth their being lodged in the outhouse with a separate entrance, it would save the prospective buyers from being exposed to the “glare of media, rival competitors and other inmates/ officials of the prison”, the application said.

Offering to abide by any condition that the court may impose, the application said that shifting Roy and two directors to an outhouse would help in hammering out a concrete proposal and place it before the court for the compliance of its order.

The court was also urged to pass an order that the authorities may only impose reasonable restrictions and allow a reasonable number of people to meet Roy and two other directors.

The court had July 22 rejected Roy’s plea for release on 40 days parole to arrange the sale of three overseas hotels – Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the New York Plaza and Dream New York hotels in New York – to generate part payment of investors money that were raised through OFCDs by its two companies Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited (SHICL).

A bench of Justice Thakur, Justice Anil R.Dave and Justice A.K.Sikri had July 22 said that in case a concrete proposal came before the court regarding the overseas properties’ sake, then it would examine it and permit Roy to be released from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. undertake the negotiations.

“Three offshore hotel properties owned by Saharas are allowed to be transferred, sold or encumbered subject to the condition that the entire sale consideration received by the Saharas after repayment of the loan outstanding towards the Bank of China is deposited with SEBI towards compliance with the directions contained in the conditional bail order dated March 26 passed by this court,” it said.

“The excess amount, if any, shall be deposited by the Saharas in a separate account to await orders from this court regarding their utilisation.”

Roy and two other directors Dubey and Choudhary are currently under custody for the failure of SIRECL and SHICL to comply with the apex court’s Aug 31, 2012, and Dec 5, 2012, order to return investors’ money, which, in 2012, was Rs.24,000 crore.

However, the market regulator SEBI now says that this amount has shot up more than Rs.37,000 crore with the income tax department making a tax claim of Rs.4,800 crore.