Chennai-based senior journalist Prakash Swamy was today sent to Tihar jail here for a month by the Supreme Court on the charge of contempt in the Sahara case.
The 64-year-old scribe, who worked as correspondent at the United Nations for 10 years, invited the wrath of the apex court as he failed to stand by his words in a sworn affidavit as the power of attorney holder of MG Cpital Holdings LLC, New York, which had intended to purchase Sahara’s Hotel Plaza New York.
He sobbed and pleaded with folded hands for forgiveness but a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was firm on sending him to jail, saying allowing him to walk free would send a “wrong message”.
“You should have realised the gravity of the case,” the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said.
Shocked and visibly shaken, Swamy was trying to prove his innocence and once even said instead of Rs 10 crore as costs he was ready to deposit Rs 10 lakh with the apex court registry.
However, the bench declined his plea and said perhaps it was the greed which prompted him to become the power of attorney holder for a foreign company.
Swamy, who has also worked for a prominent national daily of south India, said he simply got himself into the case as he was told that he would be a part of a larger deal.
“So it was greed. Temptation sometimes leads to confinement,” the bench observed while reminiding him that he could be sent to jail for six months also for contempt of court.
Some of the lawyers appearing in the Sahara matter tried to persuade the bench to be lenient towards Swamy.
The bench then asked him to submit Rs 10 crore as costs.
While the veteran scribe expressed his helplessness in arranging such a large amount, there was no word of support from the company for which he was holding the power of attorney.
Swamy also pleaded for “clemency” but the bench said “when you filed affidavit in the court you should have undertaken due diligence. You should have also borne in mind the consequences”.
At the ouset, the bench said there was no chance of giving any opportunity to Swamy as he was in contempt of court for failure to deposit the amount.
Initially, Swamy, in his affidavit, had said the firm wanted to purchase the hotel. He was then asked by the court to deposit Rs 750 crore with the SEBI-Sahara Refund Account to show its bonafide in purchasing the hotel, valued at USD 550 million.
On April 17, Swamy’s lawyer conceded that Rs 750 crore was not deposited as there was “difficulty to go with the transaction” of purchasing the hotel.
This led the court to direct the seizure of the passport of Swamy, besides asking him to deposit Rs 10 crore as costs and appear personally today.