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Be present in court on 26 Feb, SC to Sahara chief

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy to be personally present in the court on 26 Feb for the failure of his real estate companies to return Rs 19,000 crore to investors which they had collected through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCD). A bench of Justice KS Radhakrishnan amd Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar also directed three other directors of Sahara’s real estate and housing finance companies – Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Vandana Bhargava – to be present in the court Feb 26. Two Sahara group companies – Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited – have to return about Rs 19,000 crore of investors money which they had collected through OFCDs. Though the total amount was Rs 24,000 crore but Sahara had given Rs 5,120 crore in December 2012 to market regulator, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). “We direct all the contemnors to present in the court on 26 Feb,” the court said as it brushed aside submission resisting its order asking SEBI to sell the title deeds that are in its possession for securing the investors’ money.

“Every single step, you are doing like this,” Justice Khehar observed as senior counsel C.A. Sundaram urged the court to issue notice to all the Sahara companies whose title deeds are submitted to SEBI which would be sold by its direction. Declining the SEBI plea to ask Sahara group to sell their title deeds, the court told senior counsel Arvind Dattar: “We don’t trust them to do it. We ask you to do it. You must do that. What is the purpose of entrusting it to you?” Appearing for SEBI, Dattar told the court that the market regulator did not have the manpower to carry out the task of selling the properties and there are a lot of discrepancies. “Irrespective of whatever is the value, sell then and get money. Rest (of the money) we will get from them,” the court said. “At least you start the process. We must take the issue to logical conclusion.” Earlier, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Sahara, told the court that they had returned the bulk of investors’ money before court passed its 31 August, 2012, order directing it to return the investors money. Brushing aside the plea by Jethmalani, the court said that its order to return investors money has been issued again, and again and again and now again, the same arguments were being advanced before it. The court asked that if two Sahara Companies had returned the investors’ money before its Aug 31, 2012 order, then why was it not brought to its notice? The court said all through the two Sahara companies kept on telling the court that the SEBI and SAT order for returning investors money was bad.

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