New Delhi: The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange order directing prominent stock broker Ketan Parekh and his two related firms to deposit a staggering Rs 66 crore with the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged FEMA violation case.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya asked the stock broker and two others to deposit the amount with the authorities within four weeks failing which their appeal in the tribunal challenging the Rs 132 crore penalty imposed on them would stand automatically dismissed.

The tribunal had asked the stock broker and others to deposit Rs 66 crore as pre-deposit pending adjudication of the appeal.

The Apex Court said the appellants had not come with clean hands to the court and rejected their plea that they were in a precarious financial condition and hence unable to deposit the amount.

"In our considered view, the appellants miserably failed to make out a case, which could justify an order by the Appellate Tribunal to relieve them of the statutory obligation to deposit the amount of penalty.

"The appellants have the exclusive knowledge of their financial condition/status and it was their duty to candidly disclose all their assets, movable and immovable including those in respect of which orders of attachment may have been passed by the judicial and quasi judicial forums.

"However, instead of coming clean, they tried to paint a gloomy picture about their financial position, which the Appellate Tribunal rightly refused to accept," Justice Singhvi writing the judgement said.

The Appellate Tribunal in Mumbai had passed the order on August 2, 2007. But instead of approaching the Bombay High Court they chose to appeal in the Delhi High Court to delay the proceedings.( A single judge of the Delhi High  dismissed their writ petitions on July 26, 2010.

Thereafter, they filed appeals under Section 35 of the Act before the Bombay High Court and sought condonation of 1056 days’ delay in filing the appeal which was dismissed by a division bench following which they appealed in the Apex Court.

The Apex Court said Parekh and others in the case were well conversant with various statutory provisions including FEMA and several and several civil and criminal cases are pending against him.

"The very fact that they had engaged a group of eminent Advocates to present their cause before the Delhi and the Bombay High Courts shows that they have the assistance of legal experts.”

"This seems to the reason why they invoked the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court and not of the Bombay High Court despite the fact that they are residents of Bombay and have been contesting other matters including the proceedings pending before the Special Court at Bombay, the Apex Court said.

The bench further said Parekh's plea of being in financial difficulties cannot be believed by any stretch of imagination.

"If what was stated in the applications filed by the appellants and affidavit dated 10.10.2008 is correct, then the appellants must be in a state of begging which not even a man of ordinary prudence will be prepared to accept.”

"To us, it is clear that the appellants deliberately concealed the facts relating to their financial condition. Therefore, the Appellate Tribunal did not commit any error by refusing to entertain their prayer for total exemption," the Apex Court

(Agencies)