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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy on four weeks’ custodial parole to participate in the last rites of his mother, who died in Lucknow at the age of 95.
The court also offered parole to Ashok Roy Choudhary, who is Roy’s brother-in-law and one of the directors of Sahara.
Both have been held in judicial custody in Tihar jail for more than two years.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur allowed the parole on the condition that Roy, 67, would be “accompanied by police officials” dressed in plain clothes throughout the four-week duration.
Roy’s counsel Kapil Sibal assured the court of the Sahara Group chief’s intention to comply with conditions attached to the parole order. Sibal said there would be no attempt by Roy to flee, noting that his passport has already been impounded.
Chhabi Roy, Roy’s mother, died in Lucknow at 1.34 am on Friday after suffering from a prolonged illness.
Roy, Choudhary and one more Sahara group director have been in judicial custody in Tihar jail since March 2014 for failing to repay money raised from investors through the sale of securities that the capital markets regulator said were illegal.
Sahara hasn’t been able to raise the money required to procure bail for the three men, set at Rs.10,000 crore by the Supreme Court.
On 29 March, the Supreme Court asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to initiate the sale of Sahara’s properties. Sebi has maintained that it would not be easy to sell these properties, based on a preliminary scrutiny of the titles of the properties.
The apex court granted four weeks’ parole although Roy only sought three weeks. Expressing sadness at the demise of Roy’s mother, Chief Justice Thakur said: “A mother protects her child even in her death.”
Praising the order passed by the apex court on humanitarian grounds, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan said: “He has been in prison for more than two years for a white-collar crime. His mother has passed away; in such a situation, one cannot be inhuman, which is why the court granted a four-week period for the parole as against the three-week period that was sought by Sahara.”