NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court has deferred a decision on media-to-hotels group Sahara's bid to obtain bail for its boss, jailed more than a year ago in a long-running dispute over illegal bonds.
Sahara founder Subrata Roy was arrested after the company failed to comply with a court order to refund money it had raised from millions of small investors by selling them bonds later ruled to be illegal.
Sahara is a household name in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team. It also has major hotels overseas, including the Plaza in New York and the Grosvenor House in London.
India's capital market regulator and the court have estimated that Sahara owes as much as $7 billion (£4.4 billion) to the bond investors. But Sahara says it has repaid 95 percent of the amount due.
The Supreme Court has previously said Sahara would need to make an initial payment of $1.6 billion to secure Roy's release and would have to pay the rest after he was out on bail.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel again asked Sahara to submit a plan within two weeks on how it would raise the remaining funds owed.
"Give us a scheme on what you propose to do after coming out," T.S. Thakur, one of the judges, said.
A lawyer for the group said last week that Sahara had agreed to pay the full $1.6 billion bail the court had asked for.
In its bid to release Roy, Sahara has in the past made several attempts to raise the bail money using its overseas hotels.
Reporting by Aditi Shah and Suchitra Mohanty; Writing by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques and Jane Merriman