Sahara Group Chief Subrat Roy, who is lodged in Tihar jail for his failure to comply with the court's order for his personal appearance, on Monday questioned the legality of the Supreme Court's order sending him to jail and sought his habeas corpus plea to be heard by another bench saying "it is an embarrassment to the bench to hear a plea against its own order."
On March 4, a bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Jagdish Singh Khehar had passed the order for Roy's judicial custody after his defiance of its order to place before it an acceptable proposal for securing the investors money in a matter involving returning investors balance of Rs19,000 crore that its two companies SIRECL and SHICL had collected through Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures in 2008.
Roy's counsel Ram Jethmalani sought the plea, which was listed before the same bench in the post-lunch session, to be heard by a different bench saying "it is an embarrassment for him to argue before the bench which had passed the order against his client."
"It is a matter of deep embarrassment for me. If your lordships want to hear me, then I have no problem," he also said while referring to the procedure followed by the courts abroad.
"In England the same bench hears the pleas in cases of this nature but in India the practice is different...," the former law minister told the bench.
"It was embarrassing to tell the two judges that their order was not right," he further said.
While posting the matter for Thursday, Justice Khehar said, "We have not gone through the petition. Let us see if the pleadings embarrass us. We will see it. You should know, you have drafted it."
Earlier the day, Jathmalani mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Justice P Sathasivam for an urgent hearing of the matter, which was latter listed before the bench headed by Justice Radhakrishnan, before which Roy's matter is pending.
The apex court on February 20 had directed Roy and three directors of SIRECL and SHICL to be present in the court on February 26. While the directors presented themselves, Roy stayed away on the grounds of his mother's ill health. Seeking his release forthwith, Roy in his plea sought the setting aside of the March 4 order saying it was "illegal." In the plea, filed through counsel Keshav Mohan, Roy said the bench had not followed proper procedure while sending him to custody for contempt charge.
At the outset of the hearing, counsel Ram Jethmalani referred to the AR Antulay judgment and said that by the said judgment the Supreme Court was obliged to rectify its own errors.