It was March 4, 2014 when Sahara chief Subrata Roy came to the Supreme Court in his trademark white shirt and black half-waist coat in a white Bolero police vehicle to appear in pursuance to a non-bailable warrant against him for failing to deposit Rs 25,700 crore in the SEBI-Sahara case for returning investors’ money.
Roy, the architect of the vast Sahara Group, passed away on Tuesday due to a cardiorespiratory arrest after a prolonged illness at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute in Mumbai. He was 75.
On that day in 2014, it was drama to the hilt outside the top court when Roy came wearing a black tie with Sahara logo and sporting double-shade glasses. Soon, a man calling himself “Manoj Sharma, lawyer from Gwalior”, threw ink on Roy’s face, removed his own shirt and started shouting that “he (Roy) is a thief and has stolen money from poor”.
Despite the ink stain on his shirt, he appeared before the judges exuding an air of confidence and determination, a scene reminiscent of Bollywood movies, where protagonists take matters into their own hands.
Personally, arguing his case, Roy said he wanted one more chance to honour the court order and said that if he failed in this last endeavour he would come back to stand before the court and accept punishment.
As Roy concluded his address, a sense of anticipation filled the courtroom. Roy was sure he could convince the judges and they would see the merit in his proposals.
A bench of justices (since retired) K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar remained unimpressed and sent Roy to Tihar Jail “till he comes up with a concrete proposal” saying it was totally unhappy with his proposal to refund money to investors.
Roy came out on parole after spending over two years in prison on May 6, 2016 to perform the last rites of his mother Chhabi Roy. He has been out of prison since then.
Roy and two other directors, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, were arrested for failure of the for failure of the group’s two companies — Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) — to comply with the court’s August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 25,000 crore to their investors.
The apex court, in one of its orders, had noted that the Sahara group has already deposited around Rs 20,000 crore in the SEBI-Sahara account which includes Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 4,800 crore interest.
The Sahara group, all along, had been pleading that it was a case of “double payment” of investors’ money as the dues have already been paid and market regulator SEBI be directed to conduct verification of the group’s claims of payments made to investors.
The top court, however, had rejected the submissions several times.