The Supreme Court today pulled up the Sahara Group for not replying to the market regulator Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI)’s contempt plea and instead filing petitions before Allahabad High Court and Security Appellate Tribunal. The apex court ordered Sahara Group to reply to all the queries SEBI within a week.
On March 16, SEBI had filed a contempt plea against Sahara Group asking for detention of Chairman Subrata Roy after two companies of the group failed to comply with apex court's order to refund Rs 24,000 crore to its investors. SEBI had also asked for restrain on movement of Roy and two other group directors by detaining their passport.
The apex court strongly criticised Sahara's move with words like 'you are manipulating courts' for filing several petitions with various courts.
The Supreme Court asked Sahara to reply to SEBI's demand for restrain on movement. The highest court also said that SEBI was free to pass direction in addition to its orders. On April 16, after its meeting with the market regulator, Roy had accused SEBI of going beyond SC’s order and breaking rules and law.
The Supreme Court further said the SEBI need not search for 30 million small investors of Sahara Group and that it was Sahara’s responsibility to provide information about them. In August 2012, SC had asked the group to repay sums raised by dubious mean from around 30 million small investors. In February, SEBI had ordered a freeze on the assets and bank accounts of the two Sahara group companies. Since then SEBI has been trying to find Sahara investors, but have been able to contact very few investors.
Today SC said that if the regulator is able to identify the investors then it must refund the amount to them and if not, then the entire amount should be forfeited by SEBI and deposited with the Government of India. The court will have the next hearing on the matter on May 2.
(With inputs from PTI)