According to the petition, Sahara India Pariwar and Subrata Roy have used words as if SEBI is not a regulator and a statutory body but is a rival company and a private entity
Lucknow-based Amitabh Thakur, an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS) and social activist Dr Nutan Thakur have filed a writ petition against Sahara India Pariwar and Subrata Roy for its strange full page advertisements for ‘denigrating’ and abusing a statutory, self-regulatory body and a retired supreme court judge. The advertisements issued in almost every newspapers across the country followed the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) move to seek the detention of the Sahara group ‘chief worker’ Subrata Roy and key members of his team and to obtain certain clarifications from the Supreme Court.
The petition filed by the Thakurs before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, alleges that Sahara India Pariwar’s advertisements on 17 March 2013 criticize, condemn, abuse, accuse and denigrate statutory authority like SEBI. They say,
“The content and intent of these advertisements clearly shows that Sahara India Pariwar and Subrata Roy seem to have little respect for the law of the land and want to create financial anarchy and financial indiscipline by alleging extraneous motives to a statutory body formed for safeguarding the interests of the common investors and for regulating the financial market/securities in the country”.
It may be recalled that Mr Roy through his advertisements had challenged SEBI to an open debate on an issue that had gone through a long legal process and where the group had used every legal forum available to it to file multiple appeals and challenges to stymie SEBI’s investigation. The petitioners point out that Sahara has raised questions related to SEBI's statutory conduct and which significantly is also under consideration before the Supreme Court at this moment. The petitioners highlight what has been the general public reaction the bizarre advertisement—that Sahara does not seem to recognise the difference between a statutory regulator and a private entity/business rival.
Here is what the Thakurs have said in their petition...
“That while SEBI is a statutory body, the highest regulatory body to control the security market, Justice BN Agarwal, other than being a retired judge, is also working as a friend of the Supreme Court and is assisting the Supreme Court in its work—yet Sahara had launched an unprecedented attack (using words like ‘malicious’, ‘mischievous’ and ‘misleading’) against both in a manner that calls into questions Indai's judicial, legislative and executive structure.”
According to the Thakurs, the advertisement and its allegations, prima-facie appear to come under the purview of Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860—“Obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions.—Whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions.
That the matter becomes all the more serious because Sahara India Pariwar is not a legal entity, it is not even a registered body corporate and is a completely vaguely used word. Similar is the case with the legal status of Subrata Roy as the chairman and managing worker of Sahara India Pariwar.
The Thakurs have prayed for a complete ban on all advertisements where any constitutional or statutory body is criticized. They have also asked for an enquiry into the issue and necessary subsequent legal actions against Sahara India Pariwar and Subrata Roy.
The petition is expected to be heard on 22nd March before the bench of chief justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice DK Arora.
Earlier, the Registrar of Companies (RoC) sent a notice to Sahara India Real Estate Corporation seeking clarification on the conversion of its bonds into Sahara Q shop bonds, following complaints by three Lucknow-based activists, including the Thakurs. ()
The Supreme Court in August 2012, asked Subrata Roy-led Sahara group to refund Rs17,400 crore collected from investors within three months with 15% interest. A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar also directed SEBI to take action against these two companies, if they fail to refund the money, while allowing regulators to attach properties and freeze bank accounts of SIRECL and Sahara Housing Investment Corp (SHICL).
If the Nifty stays above 5,720 tomorrow a short rally is likely. A close above 5,745 will mean a continuation of the pull-back. On the downside, the support is at 5,660
The government is banking on disinvestment of SAIL to meet the disinvestment target of Rs24,000 crore in the current fiscal. So far, it has raised over Rs22,300 crore through PSU stake sales
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Disinvestment, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, which met in New Delhi today, cleared a 10.82% stake sale in steel major SAIL. The issue will hit the markets on Friday.
The base price would be made public only after the close of market hours tomorrow.
“SAIL OFS (offer for sale) has been approved by EGoM. The issue will hit market on 22nd March,” disinvestment secretary Ravi Mathur informed the media.
The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) has already held roadshows in Singapore, Hong Kong, US, UK and continental Europe for the proposed SAIL disinvestment. SAIL comes under the administrative control of steel ministry.
The merchant bankers for SAIL share sale include SBI Caps, Kotak Mahindra and Deutsche Bank. Post stake sale, the government's stake would come down to 75%.
For the third quarter ended 31 December 2012, SAIL reported a 23% decline in net profit at Rs 484 crore from the year-ago period mainly due to lower net sales realisation amid subdued market conditions.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had in July last year approved 10.82% disinvestment in SAIL out of government’s 85.82% stake, through the OFS route.
However, the disinvestment plan could not be taken forward amid the dismal market conditions. The government had kept the issue on hold anticipating buoyancy in the market to return.
SAIL shares have not been part of the market rally during 2012. The stock, which touched a 52-week high of Rs115.90 on 17 February 2012, has been losing ground ever since talks of disinvestment began.
The government is banking on disinvestment of SAIL to meet the disinvestment target of Rs24,000 crore in the current fiscal. So far, it has raised over Rs22,300 crore through PSU stake sales.