In what could worsen matters for jailed Sahara chief Subrata Roy, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Friday told the Supreme Court the sum owed by two Sahara group companies to investors was Rs 37,000 crore, much higher than the amounts stated earlier.
"According to the affidavit filed by the two companies, the principal amount is Rs 25,780 crore. With interest, this amounts to over Rs 37,000 crore," Sebi counsel Pratap Venugopal told the bench. He quoted an August 31, 2012, order that said the entire amount had to be paid with an interest of 15 per cent a year.
A Sebi lawyer told Business Standard, "The interest was payable from the date the money was raised," adding this "was clear in the order".
Venugopal's statement followed Sahara proposing a staggered payment plan for an amount much lower than indicated earlier. While the group had offered a bank guarantee for Rs 22,500 crore during Tuesday's hearing, on Friday, the group proposed cash payment of Rs 17,400 crore in six quarterly instalments.
Roy's counsel C A Sundaram said the group would first pay Rs 2,500 crore in cash through the next three days and Rs 2,000-3,900 crore in five quarterly instalments beginning July. The last instalment would be payable in July 2015, Sundaram said.
However, the bench of judges K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar wasn't impressed with the proposal. "Is this your final proposal?" Radhakrishnan asked.
Khehar said, "It is a big insult to make us assemble for a person who is not willing to pay. We are not accepting this proposal. This is not an honourable proposal; it is a dishonourable proposal."
Sundaram said Rs 2,500 crore was a substantial amount and this was the best the group could manage with its chief behind bars. "He (Roy) is the one who has to do it. In his absence, there is no speaking face for the group," he said. "If anybody has creditworthiness (in the group), it is him."
To this, Radhakrishnan replied, "His incarceration is only two days. For the past one and a half years, he was out."
To come up with a "proper proposal", the bench allowed Roy to meet his financial consultants and lawyers for two hours - 10 am-12 noon - everyday.
When Sahara group counsel Rajiv Dhawan asked whether Roy could be kept in police custody in Delhi, the bench said the matter could be taken up on Tuesday, when the next hearing was scheduled.
When another Sahara laywer, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said the court should take into account the livelihoods of 1.2 million Sahara workers and crores of investors, Khehar shot back, "Is there a single investor?"
SAHARA'S TOSSED PAYMENT PROPOSAL
* Upfront payment (in three days) Rs 2,500 cr
* July 31, 2014 Rs 2,000 cr
* October 31, 2014 Rs 2,500 cr
* January 31, 2015 Rs 3,000 cr
* April 30, 2015 Rs 3,500 cr
* July 31, 2015 Rs 3,900 cr