The Supreme Court Friday said it would hear on July 13 the plea in which it had stayed the direction of the Patna High Court asking the Director General of Police, Bihar, to produce Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy before it in connection with the case in which some companies of the Group were not returning money to the investors.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and J B Pardiwala passed the order while taking into account the request made by the Bihar government’s counsel who said the state needed time to file a counter-affidavit.
“At the request of counsel for the State of Bihar, the hearing is deferred for four weeks to enable the state to file a counter-affidavit. List on July 13,” the bench said, adding, “Interim order to continue till the next date.
On May 13, the top court had stayed the high court’s direction.
It had also stayed the separate order passed by the high court which had on February 11 directed to add Sahara Credit Cooperative Societies Limited and Roy as opposite parties to a bail petition pending before it and later, directed him to personally appear before it.
On April 27, the high court had directed Roy to personally appear before it noting that Sahara Group and other companies, which have been taking deposits till about one month back, are directed to come up with a plan for the return of investment of the investors.
The apex court had on May 13 issued notice on the plea filed by the Sahara chief against the high court orders.
At the outset on Friday, the bench said the time has been sought for filing a counter affidavit in the matter.
An advocate, appearing for an intervenor, said over 2,000 intervention applications are pending in the high court and the top court should do something to “protect the interest of the investors”.
“You may be right. Your expectations may be genuine expectations but the point is, in which proceedings we should be doing that as the high court or as the Supreme Court,” the bench observed.
An advocate, appearing for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), said they are not a necessary or proper party and the high court had simply impleaded them.
“We have nothing to say in this matter,” the counsel said.
“In fact, what is happening is because of this order, people are being arrested left, right and center. This is the other problem which is happening,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, said.
During the hearing on May 13, Sibal had apprised the apex court that earlier on that day, the high court had passed an order directing the Bihar DGP to produce Roy before the court on May 16 at 10.30 AM.
“We are informed that pursuant to the impugned order, the high court has issued further orders today, i.e. May 13, 2022, which has the effect of directing the concerned authority in Patna (police) to produce the petitioner before the court. In terms of this order, we stay the operation of the direction given by the high court qua the petitioner till the next date of hearing,” the bench had said in its May 13 order.
Sibal had last week told the bench that the high court had passed these orders while hearing an anticipatory bail plea which has nothing to do with the petitioner.
He had argued that some investors moved the high court and said Sahara group has not given them the money and the high court then passed the order in February.
In its May 13 order, the high court had noted that prayer for exemption of Roy has been earlier rejected twice on May 6 and May 12.
The high court had also observed that despite various chances given to Roy, he has failed to appear before it and the court has no option, but to order the authorities to produce him physically before it on May 16.
In its April 27 order, the high court noted that while considering the anticipatory bail applications, the court has come across cases of cheating committed by Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), and considering the same, various orders were passed in these cases earlier.
The high court had noted that it was informed that the Bihar Protection of Interest of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, 2002 was enacted to control such activities but the public at large has been cheated by NBFCs without any control and the government functionaries under the Act have not been able to give any relief to them.
It had also noted that a large number of complaints before the authorities under the 2002 Act for non-payment of maturity amount by different entities of Sahara Group registered as NBFCs, multi-purpose cooperative society, etc. have been received by the authorities but the Group has “somehow evaded payment of maturity amount of the investors.” Prior to that, on February 11, the high court had noted in its order that some interlocutory applications have been filed by some intervenors that their money is lying with Sahara Credit Cooperative Societies Limited and other companies of the Sahara Group and they have not been returning the amount to the investors.