The Supreme Court has set aside the interim relief granted by the Delhi High Court against investigation into nine companies under the Sahara Group by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).
The central government had passed two orders in 2018 and 2020 for investigation into nine companies Sahara Q Shop Unique Products Range Ltd, Sahara Q Gold Mart, Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd, Aamby Valley Ltd, Qing Ambay City Developers Corporation Ltd, Sahara India Commercial Corporation Ltd, Sahara Prime City L td, Sahara India Financial Corporation Ltd, and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd.
The Delhi High Court had passed an interim order in December 2021 staying the investigation into the companies along with coercive measures and lookout notices against Sahara group chief Subrata Roy Sahara and others. The court had observed that the petitioners Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd made out a prima facie case for grant of interim relief, with the balance of convenience in their favour, and irreparable loss could be caused to them in the absence of the relief. The Delhi court had also Centre’s response to the petition.
The SFIO, a statutory corporate fraud investigation agency under the central government, had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s order. The agency had sought urgent hearing of its appeal, stating that the stay had caused serious prejudice to the ongoing investigation.
On May 17, the Supreme Court had agreed to list for hearing SFIO’s plea against the Delhi High Court order.
In its order today, a vacation bench of the apex court, comprising justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi, observed that staying the investigation at an interim stage was not justified.
“It will be inappropriate at this stage to place the burden of reason till the complete probe is over. High court was not correct in staying the investigation at interim stage. We allow (present) appeals and set aside the high court order on stay,” the SC bench notes in its order.
The bench has also clarified that this decision will not impact the writ petition in the matter pending before the Delhi High Court, nor any other petitions filed by the Sahara group companies.
“High court shall decide the writ petition without any regard to observations made herein. We request the high court to expeditiously dispose of the case, preferably within two months after re-opening after summer vacations,” the top court’s order further reads.