The Supreme Court on Friday exempted Sahara group chief Subrata Roy and two other directors from personal appearance till "further orders" in a case related to their alleged failure in depositing Rs 25,700 crore in the SEBI-Sahara account for returning investors' money.
The top court, on January 31 last year, had directed Mr Roy and two other directors, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, to personally appear before it "to enable the court to pass appropriate orders so that the law can take its own course and reach the desired conclusion".
It had said that the efforts of the Sahara group to pay back did not "inspire the confidence of the court" as its order for deposit of Rs 25,700 crore has not been complied with so far.
Mr Roy was sent to the Tihar Jail by the top court on March 4, 2014 and 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.
Subrata Roy and two other directors were present in the court on Friday.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant Friday, took note of the plea of senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Mr Roy, and granted them exemption from personal appearance.
"The contemnors (Roy and others) are exempted from personal appearance till further orders," the bench said, adding that it would fix the matter on a non-miscellaneous day to accord extensive hearing.
The bench headed by the CJI, which was hearing the case for the first time in present combination of judges, asked the lawyers to provide subject-wise charts of pending applications and said it would hear it for the entire day.
Mr Singh urged the court that the Delhi Police escort, given to Mr Roy, be withdrawn as it was not required.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Delhi Police, alleged that Subrata Roy uses his private guards and does not allow police personnel to accompany him most of the times despite a specific order in this regard.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also opposed the plea of Mr Roy on withdrawal of security guards and said they were deployed at his expenditure to ensure his presence in court and pay back the money.
The bench said it will not pass any order on this aspect and assured lawyers that the case will be listed soon for the hearing.
Earlier, the top court 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 was directed in August 2012 to pay around Rs 25,700 crore.
"You are unable to deposit the money. We will ask whosoever is the person has to appear in person," the bench had said while declining the plea for grant of more opportunities for making payment of around Rs 5,000 crore dues.
In July 2018, the auctioning process of Sahara group's prized Aamby Valley properties was put off by the Supreme Court after it was informed that the auction notice did not elicit any response from prospective buyers.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the SEBI, had said that the total amount was Rs 25,781.23 crore, of which around Rs 15,000 crore principal amount has already been deposited by the group. With interest, the deposited amount would come to around Rs 20,000 crore.
Mr Roy and two other directors were arrested 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.