Reacting to media reports that market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to attach the properties and freeze the bank-accounts of two of the companies (Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd) of the Sahara group along with the bank-account of Sahara-promoter Subrata Roy, on CNBC-TV18, Sahara counsel Kishore Lahiri says that it was not possible to comment as there was no communication from Sahara or an official order from SEBI.
Below is the edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18
Q: Can you confirm whether the market regulator has frozen the bank-accounts and attached properties of the Sahara Group and Sahara-promoter Subrata Roy?
A: Actually, I can’t confirm it at all because I haven’t heard anything at all from my clients. But as far as I am concerned, as a lawyer for Sahara, I have no such news and therefore it is impossible for me to even comment on it.
Q: But would this surprise you because in the last hearing on this matter, the Supreme Court had very categorically told the market regulator that it was free to actually freeze the account and attach the property. In fact the Supreme Court had asked the market regulator why it hadn't executed the order passed by the apex court. So, would this action - if it has indeed been taken - surprise you at all?
A: It would be actually inappropriate for me to comment for two reasons because this is obviously what you are talking about of the proceeding before a bench of Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice Kehar and I did not appear for Sahara on that day. So, I don’t know what transpired between the court and the parties that day.
Secondly, even if I had, as far as matters sub judice are concerned it would be absolutely inappropriate for any lawyer or for that matter any party to comment on it. Restricting myself to answer your question, I can only say that I simply have no information at all either from my clients or anybody dealing with clients or the instructing advocates, that any accounts of Sahara or the two companies involved with SEBI from the Sahara Group, have been frozen or not.
Q: Did you have any communication with anyone from the Sahara Group today?
A: No, I did not. If the client has a problem, they will get in touch with me and we will sort out the problem. However, till now I have had no communication from the client.
Q: I understand that you were not present in court the day that Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice Kehar said that SEBI should go ahead and was free to freeze accounts or attach properties. If the market regulator were to do so, would it need to send the Sahara Group a notice saying that it had because as the SEBI has already moved the Mumbai Civil Court in this matter?
A: I believe that's what SEBI says. I am not too sure whether in those proceedings, as far as execution or whatever SEBI has said that it has moved again, Sahara has been put to notice of those proceedings. Neither does Sahara have any information as of now. I don’t have any information that Sahara has been informed about any bank-accounts being attached or anything of that sort.
Q: If indeed this news emerging at this point in time are accurate and the market regulator has frozen the accounts as well as the attached property what is the legal recourse available to Sahara?
A: We will have to examine on what grounds SEBI could have done that because if it is a question of any accounts of beyond the two companies which are involved in the proceedings against SEBI are concerned, that is be completely unauthorised.
Just because some proceedings are pending against one or more companies of a group doesn’t mean the bank accounts of other companies of that group can be attached. Nor does it mean that personal accounts of people who hold key executive positions in the group can be attached.
That would be absolutely high-handed. But all this is in the realm of speculation and it would probably be appropriate to wait till a complete picture emerges.