Sahara chief Subrata Roy challenges detention by SC

"Declare the order dated 04.03.2014 as void, nullity and non-est in the eyes of law," said the petition on behalf of Roy which will be heard tomorrow.

PTI| Updated: Mar 12, 2014, 22:33 PM IST

New Delhi: Beleaguered Sahara Chief Subrata Roy on Wednesday challenged before the Supreme Court his detention order passed by a two-member bench calling it "illegal and unconstitutional" and demanded his release.

"Declare the order dated 04.03.2014 as void, nullity and non-est in the eyes of law," said the petition on behalf of Roy which will be heard tomorrow.

The Sahara group's lawyers failed to get any immediate relief with a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam referring the matter through a habeas corpus petition to a two-member bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, which would hear it tomorrow afternoon.

On March 4, the two-judge bench had sent Roy and two of company's directors to Tihar jail in connection with the case relating to non-refund of Rs 20,000 crore to its investors.

The same bench briefly heard the matter in the afternoon when senior advocate Ram Jethmalani made a strong plea for "rectification of mistake" in the March 4 order.

"It is a little embarrassing to argue before you that your order needs rectification," the counsel said adding "It is a deep embarrassment for me but if the lordship is willing to hear then I would make my lordships quite satisfied with my arguments".

However, the bench said it would go through the petition and hear the matter tomorrow and then can express its view.

"We will go through the pleadings then we will say whether we are embarrassed or not," Justice Khehar shot back.

A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person's imprisonment or detention is lawful.

"There is some defect which needs to be cured urgently" Jethmalani had pleaded the chief justice's court and wanted it to hear him at 2 PM.

On the last date of hearing on March 7, the apex court had asked the Sahara group to come out with "honourable proposal" for depositing Rs 20,000 crore of investors money and posted the hearing on March 11.

The matter was then posted for hearing on March 11 but the case got adjourned with no date of further hearing specified.

The special bench had earlier expressed unhappiness over the proposal of Sahara on the refund of investors' money.

It had rejected Sahara's proposal which had offered to pay Rs 2,500 crore within three days and the rest of the amount in five instalments by the end of July, 2015.

In a hard-hitting petititon, Roy submitted that detaining him is "purely illegal, contrary to the procedure prescribed by law and against the principles of natural justice".
Roy questioned the constitutional validity of the detention order saying it was passed after an "illusionary" hearing.

"The petitioner submits that the impugned order made after such illusionary hearing is in total defiance of the rules framed under the Constitution and is gross violation of principle of natural justice," he said in his petition.

"The Bench of this Court without compliance with law and principles of natural justice has incarcerated him under a law which does not exist and without following the ordinary cannons of natural justice.

"The petitioner submits the order of incarceration dated March 4 is a complete nullity and it is duty of this Court to terminate this unlawful detention and release the petitioner forthwith," he said.

The petition, signed and approved senior advocates--Ram Jethmalani, Rajeev Dhawan, Rakesh Dwivedi, S Ganesh and Ravi Shankar Prasad--contends that Roy is not liable for contempt as he is not a Director or officer-in-charge of two Sahara's firm, which had collected money from investors.