Mumbai/New Delhi: Subrata Roy
, the chief of the Sahara conglomerate, told the Supreme Court today, "with folded hands, I am begging you to save us. Give us time," he urged, vowing that "every direction" of the court would be followed.
Despite his apology, the court ordered him to remain in police custody till the next hearing of the case. (Who is Subrata Roy? 10-point cheat-sheet)
Sahara has been ordered by the court to repay thousands of small investors in towns and villages. Its offer to sell different properties to raise funds - an offer Mr Roy made again today seeking reprieve of "three-four months" - has been rejected by the Supreme Court; market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India or Sebi has said that these properties are massively over-valued and that their sale will not fetch the 20,000 crore rupees that needs to be raised to refund investors. (What may have led to Sahara chief Subrata Roy's arrest)
Sahara says it has repaid most investors and that its remaining liability is less than the 5,000 crore rupees it has deposited with Sebi. The regulator says it has been unable to sift through truckloads of paper that Sahara sent as evidence that it has refunded the investors.
As he arrived at the Supreme Court today, Mr Roy, the 65-year-old head of India's biggest private-sector employer, was sprayed with ink by a man who was beaten up by lawyers and handed over to the police. "He robs the poor," said the ink-thrower.
Last week, Mr Roy skipped a court appearance, prompting an arrest warrant. He turned himself in to the police in Lucknow on Friday. (Sahara chief Subrata Roy arrested, son says as law abiding citizen he surrendered)
Today, the judges told Mr Roy, "You push us to the corner. Had you been serious, this position would not have arrived."
Mr Roy apologized for his absence, claiming that his reasons were genuine. His lawyers say he was attending to his ailing 92-year-old mother.
Sahara's core business includes selling financial products, largely to small investors. Two such products that were ruled illegal in 2012, drew Sebi's attention. A court order asked Sahara to repay 24,000 crore rupees plus interest to nearly three million investors.