New Delhi: Subrata Roy may have to play holi inside Tihar jail and stay put there till Mar 25 with the Supreme Court on Thursday remaining unyielding on his bail plea after the Sahara group failed to come out with a new proposal for refunding Rs 20,000 crore of investors money.
The apex court said that it would consider his bail plea only if the group comes out with new proposal for refunding the money and turned down its offer of paying Rs 2,500 crore now and rest in instalments, which was rejected earlier too.
"We will consider if there is a new proposal," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar observed when at the fag end of the two-hour hearing Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani pleaded for bail so that he can be with his family for holi.
"Prayer made by Ram Jethmalani, learned senior counsel for the petitioner, for bail cannot be considered at this juncture, since no written proposal for payment in compliance with the directions issued by this Court has been made so far," the bench said in its order.
Jethmalani, appearing for 65-year old Roy who has been in jail since March 4, pleaded that he should be granted bail to celebrate holi with his family and also to spend time with his mother, who is critically ill.
"We have repeatedly been saying what is your proposal. Tell us how much you can pay," the bench said adding "The key is in your hands".
Jethmalani, however, said that it is not possible to raise more money as nobody can come to our help till Roy remains in jail and that only he can arrange the money.
Turning it down, the bench posted Roy's plea against his detention order for March 25 as Jethmalani expressed his inability to argue the case tomorrow. The court will not be working next week due to holi vacation.
The special bench, which assembled at 2 PM to conduct hearing on Roy's petition challenging its detention order, heard the case amidst tight security. Some security personnel of the Delhi police were present in the court room.
The hearing, during which Roy's counsel submitted that his detention was "illegal and unconstitutional", was conducted in a relaxed atmosphere in which the judges and the lawyers exchanged a lot of banter.
At the outset, the bench said it found nothing embarrassing in the petition as submitted yesterday by Jethmalani while questioning the validity of its order.
"We have gone through the petition and nothing is embarrassing (for the bench) in it. You can argue the case including on the issue of maintainability," the bench said while asking Jethmalani whether there is any new proposal on payment.
This was an apparent reference to Jethmalani yesterday saying it would be a little embarrassing for him argue before the bench that its order needed rectification.
"With the incarceration, things have gone worse. People expect nothing in return from a man inside jail. We can the best solution of the problem only if he comes out. Nobody is going to help us if I remain in jail," Jethmalani said adding "Bail is my right and Don't make things difficult for me".
The bench, however, refused to grant relief saying that it had given Roy enough time for the last one and half years and asked SEBI's counsel to argue on the maintainability of petition.
Agreeing to hear Roy's petition, the bench said "We have corrected our order many times even in disposed of matters but we wonder whether it can be done on a writ petition.
While opposing Roy's plea against his detention, SEBI submitted that his petition is not maintainable and the incarceration order is valid and legal.
"What other order could be passed if the man behaves like this. The order is fully justified and it (passing such order) is a tool to force obedience of court's order," senior advocate Arvind Datar submitted.
He submitted that a person can be detained for six months by IT department in case of default of Rs 250 and in this case the amount is Rs 25,000 crore.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for the group, said that there is "substantive and procedural" mistake in the March 4 order by which Roy was sent to jail.
He said that there was a grave error on the part of the bench in passing such an order in which the bail bond was virtually fixed at Rs 22,500 crore.
In a hard-hitting petition filed through advocate Keshav Mohan, Roy submitted that detaining him is "purely illegal, contrary to the procedure prescribed by law and against the principles of natural justice".
Roy had 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," the petition said.