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Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi says actions of the Sahara Group in the past 6 months have not inspired the court’s confidence

The Supreme Court, on Thursday (January 31), sought the personal appearance of Sahara Group head honcho Subrato Roy in the court on February 28, as his organisation failed to make the total payment of Rs 25,000 crore, despite SC laying down a roadmap in SEBI-Sahara case.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice AK Sikri , and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul noted that despite several opportunities and indulgences, the group failed to make the payment in full.

The CJI enquired from Sahara’s counsel, senior advocate Vikas Singh why despite the passage of six months since the group was granted time to frame a roadmap for returning the money owed, the desired outcome was not achieved. The bench said: “What transpired during this period has not inspired the confidence of the court.”

Sahara has been locked in a prolonged legal battle with capital markets regulator SEBI for allegedly breaching norms and processes in raising Rs 25,000 crore through certain bonds. The Supreme Court had asked the Subrata Roy-led group to deposit funds with SEBI for refund investors.

Vikas Singh argued before the bench that SEBI had not completed the verification process of investors, “We have already spent Rs 55 crore on the digitization of the document” Singh said. Unimpressed, the CJI questioned: “when will you pay the entire money… it’s already been two years.”

“What is the roadmap”, the CJI sought to know. To which Sahara’s counsel said that the real-estate market is in an extremely bad shape and nothing is selling. However, the CJI persisted with his questions on the lack of a framework for returning the money and told Singh: “if you don’t deposit, then the law will take its course”.

The bench then directed Roy and other directors to appear before it personally on the next date of hearing.

Sahara’s counsel told the bench that SEBI is moving slow on the verification despite the group spending Rs 55 crore on the process. The court said that it could ask SEBI to pay that money onward to the investors while it was incumbent on the Sahara group to then make the remaining payment in full. The counsel did not advance any arguments on the issue.

During the proceedings, SEBI also informed the court that the Sahara group has deposited Rs 20,000 crore up till now, thereby failing to meet with the SC directive of paying up Rs 25000 crore in full.

—India Legal Bureau

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