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New Supreme Court bench to hear Sebi-Sahara case

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NEW DELHI: A new bench will now hear the case involving two Sahara Group companies that have been asked to pay about Rs 24,000 crore to market regulator Sebi to be returned to investors in their schemes. The bench will be headed by Justice TS Thakur, who is in line to become the Chief Justice of India, and another judge whose name will be notified shortly, Supreme Court officials said.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Justice JS Khehar, had on August 31,2012, directed the companies to pay the amount to Sebi. On March 4 this year, the bench sent Sahara chief Subroto Roy to jail for failing to appear personally to explain the Group’s failure to pay the sum. Sahara Group has so far paid only Rs 5,206 crore to Sebi.

Justice Radhakrishnan is due to retire on May 16 while Justice Khehar, who is also in line to become Chief Justice in the future, recused himself from the case days after the bench held that there was nothing illegal regarding its order detaining Roy.

Although Justice Khehar assigned no reasons for his decision, people familiar with the matter said the bench had heard arguments for over two-and-a-half years from Sahara defending its conduct, and possibly fatigue had set in over the protracted litigation.

Roy’s lawyers had contested that the order to detain their client was illegal and violated his fundamental rights. The bench had then slammed Roy’s lawyers for their conduct, dubbed Roy an obstinate litigant for failing to pay up the sum and suggested that Parliament frame laws to rein in such litigants in the future.

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