A bench led by Justice K S Radhakrishnan also pulled up the group for not responding to its contempt notice to show cause why action should not be initiated for their alleged breach of orders on refunding the money to investors and depositing all required documents with SEBI for verification of investors and payments.
"Are you supposed to sit and relax when notice is issued to you? We think you are trying to make the case an endless exercise," said the bench, giving Sahara a week's time to file replies, both to SEBI's contempt petition and another plea seeking their detention. SEBI has sought detention of Roy and the two directors, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey, in view of their "open, continued and consistent defiance" of its directive on refund of money.
In August 2011, the court had asked two Sahara firms ' Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHICL) ' to refund Rs 24,000 crore raised from investors through "illegally" raised optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) by November 30 last year.
The bench said it was "very strange" that Sahara had been seeking extension of time and other relief from various forums although the SC order had attained finality. "What has been happening? You are filing appeals after appeals. Why did you move the Allahabad High Court against SEBI's attachment order? How can you go the HC? You are manipulating courts. Attempts are made to overreach orders of this court. We are surprised about what you are doing. We will take it seriously," cautioned the bench.
The bench also discarded an argument by Sahara's counsel that they were compelled to approach HC and SAT since SEBI had gone beyond the scope of the SC order by passing certain orders, including attachment of personal properties of the directors.
The Bench said SEBI was at liberty to take any action it felt necessary to make its directives enforceable. "We are not interested in parties (to the case). If you have done this (moving HC and SAT), then it is contempt of this court. Even approaching SEBI is contempt now," it added.
On SEBI's statement that it was not able to trace majority of the investors, the court told the regulator: "If the investors approached SEBI, it is fine. Pay genuine investors from the money deposited by Sahara, transfer the remaining funds to the Government of India if you do not find genuine investors."
The court will now hear the matter on May 2.