New Delhi: Sahara Chief Subrata Roy and two other group directors will have to surrender to custody within a week, with the Supreme Court on Friday terminating the "interim arrangements" of granting parole to them.
The apex court, earlier in the day, was infuriated due to some alleged intemperate remarks of Sahara counsel and senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, and had cancelled "all interim arrangements" granting parole to Roy and Sahara directors Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey, and ordered that they be taken into custody.
However later, the apex court granted a week to embattled Roy, whose other senior counsel Kapil Sibal rushed to the court for damage control.
Deploring the manner in which Dhawan addressed the court earlier, the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said "there are some senior advocates who are disrespectful to the court" and play with its dignity.
The bench, which also comprised Justices A R Dave and A K Sikri, then went on to cancel all interim arrangements granting parole to Roy and the others, forcing Sibal to swing into action by distancing themselves from Dhawan's remarks and apologising through another senior counsel Narendra Hooda.
The bench which had fixed the fresh plea of Roy seeking modification of the court's order on October 3, later advanced the date of hearing on September 28 instead.
"At the request of the counsel for the contemnors, post again on Monday October 3, 2016 at 2 PM. In the meantime, the interim arrangement made by this Court shall stand terminated. The contemnors are given one week's time to surrender back to custody," the initial order of the court said.
The subsequent order said: "At the request of Kapil Sibal, senior counsel appearing for the Saharas/contemnors, post I.A. No..... Of 2016 for modification of this Court's order of even date on Wednesday i.E. September 28, 2016 at 3.30 PM."
Sibal, who was down with fever, appeared and tendered an unconditional apology to the bench for Dhawan's remarks and assured the bench that this will never be repeated.
In the afternoon, after Sibal apologised, the Chief Justice, who was sitting in a different combination of judges, said "the court does not have problem with anyone, but there has to be some respect for the chair and the institution."
The Chief Justice further said "it was very unfortunate" and added that "we don't need respect from lawyers as much as the institution does but you can't go on brow-beating judges".
"At the end of the day we also do some introspection. We also think of what we are speaking in the court. We also think that our words don't show any disrespect to anyone", the CJI said.
The CJI, while agreeing to hear Sahara's plea for recall of the day's order after consulting the other two judges of the special bench hearing the issue, said "One may be very eloquent, scholarly but that doesn't mean he can browbeat the court. You should present your case politely. There should be threshold of tolerance".
During the hearing in the forenoon, the bench was irked after it asked Sahara chief to deposit Rs 300 crore for extension of his parole till September 30 and Dhawan replied that it cannot be done and sought the hearing on the issue.
Dhawan said that parole of Roy was to expire today and he had sought the extension saying that Rs 352 crore has been deposited in compliance of the earlier direction of the court which was Rs 52 crore more.
Advocate Prabhat Venugopal, appearing for market regulator Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), said that 58 properties were put on auction and they had sold eight of them raising Rs 137 crore. He also said that five of the properties were provisionally attached and three of them are free.
To this, the bench told the SEBI counsel, "you go ahead with the auction, sell those properties which are free and submit a report".
Venugopal informed the court that most of the properties in the list given to SEBI for auction have already been provisionally attached by the Income Tax department.
Dhawan said the matter be fixed for September 30 for hearing and alleged that they have not been involved in the process of selling of properties by SEBI.
"You gave a list of properties which are already attached and you are not cooperating. It's better you go to jail. ... If you want to be heard, you go to jail. Don't tell us what to do. All interim arrangements stand cancelled. Contemnors are directed to be taken into custody," the bench said.
Dhavan said it was not a fair statement that they should be sent back to jail. "We have deposited Rs 352 crore already as per the last direction which is Rs 52 crore more. It is not a fair statement," he said.