SC admits Sahara’s plea; stay on SAT order to continue

The Sahara group informed the Supreme Court that it has filed affidavit explaining that it will protect the interests of 2.3 crore investors who have put in their money in Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (now known as Sahara Commodity Services Corporation) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday admitted the Sahara group’s plea challenging the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) order directing its two companies to refund around Rs17,400 crore to their investors, and extended its interim order to stay tribunal’s decision till further date, reports PTI.

Admitting Sahara’s plea, a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia listed the matter for further hearing on 20th January 20.

The group informed the court that it has filed affidavit explaining that it will protect the interests of 2.3 crore investors who have put in their money in Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (now known as Sahara Commodity Services Corporation) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation.

The bench had earlier on 28th November asked the companies to place before it their 2010-11 balance sheets and statements of accounts for November 2011 by Monday.

“Net worth of the companies particularly assets against which liability has been created, financial statements including balance sheets of 2010-11 and statements of accounts of the companies of November 2011 shall be mentioned in the affidavit,” the bench had said.

The apex court had earlier issued notices to the central government and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking their response on Sahara’s plea challenging SAT’s 18th October order, directing it to refund the money, raised through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCD) to investors within six weeks.

It extended till 8th January the time limit set by SAT, which had passed the order on the Sahara group’s appeal against the SEBI's June order asking the group’s firms to return the money, collected from investors through financial instrument OFCD, on grounds of violation of regulatory norms.

The stock market regulator had also restrained the two entities from accessing the securities market for raising funds till payments were made to the satisfaction of SEBI.

The two companies and its promoter Subrata Roy Sahara, and the directors—Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary—were told jointly and severely to refund the collected money.

The company had then approached the Supreme Court which asked it to approach the tribunal.

While dismissing the appeal, the SAT had held that the market regulator has jurisdiction over such fund-raising schemes.


CIC directs president’s secretariat to disclose info on black money

The order came following an appeal by an RTI applicant who had sought to know the action taken report on the letters written by him to finance and external affairs ministries, among other public authorities, in connection with the illegal wealth stashed abroad

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the president’s secretariat to disclose details of correspondence among various ministries and Delhi Police related to black money, reports PTI.

The order came following an appeal by an RTI applicant who had sought to know the action taken report on the letters written by him to finance and external affairs ministries, among other public authorities, in connection with the illegal wealth stashed abroad.

During the hearing, the appellant also submitted that he was mainly interested to get from the office of the president secretariat the file notings concerning their correspondence with the banking division, ministry of finance, ministry of external affairs and the Delhi Police.

“It seems the appellant had written a number of letters— to various authorities regarding—the Indian citizens illegally depositing black money in various ‘foreign banks ... The Central Public Information Officer (of the president secretariat) had provided him with some information while advising him to approach the remaining authorities to know about the action taken by each one of them.

“After carefully considering the facts of the case, we do not see any problem in disclosing this information,” India's Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra said in his order.

The CIC further directed the CPIO to provide information within 10 working days including photocopies of the file notings from the relevant files in which his letters had been processed and correspondence made with the banking division, ministry of finance, MEA and the Delhi Police.


Deadly creativity

What is the obsession with death in advertisements?

Death seems to be the ‘in’ theme in advertising these days. In the last one year, many companies have embraced the motif with gusto. The idea is to be funny or poignant—but is not always successful.

The latest to jump into the bandwagon is ‘Stop Not Golz’. A soldier eats a snack in a trench during a war, and inexplicably, the packet gets shot (!) and its spirit leaves for heaven. Unable to stay away from it, the soldier jumps out of the trench, roars maniacally and gets shot at. Soon after, his spirit ascends, gets hold of the snacks—spirit (?) and an ideal stalker-like ditty by Kishore-Kumar starts playing, ‘Tera piccha na chhodunga’(I won’t give up chasing you).

This advertisement can be summed up in two words: misplaced and boring. To make fun of death is something only experts can pull off, but to trivialise something as gruesome as war with a packet of snacks (or its spirit) is bad taste. What makes it more bizarre is the soldier’s attraction to the ghost of a packet of chips and not the object itself. It makes no sense. Now, if the soldier had made a go for a packet located at the middle of the war zone, or even in the hands of the enemy, it could have lent it a shade of plausibility. And at the end of the long drawn out scenario, the ending leaves you cold and irritated.

As bizarre Stop Not is, it has tough competition from GreenLam Laminates from Greenply. An old man is walking through monochrome streets when he spots a coloured coffin made of GreenLam. He commissions it for himself, goes home, gets converted to Christianity and dies promptly. He smiles as his prized peach-tinted coffin is lowered to the ground. Catchphrase—‘Dil to karega hi’ (after all, the heart would want it.

Greenply commercials are generally surprising and funny and their thrust has always been on the durability of the product. But with this coffin commercial, they went for a change, with unpardonable consequences. No matter which way you try to look at it, at the end, you tell yourself, “It is just a piece of wood. Why should I die for it?”

That, precisely, is something advertisers fail to realise. To show that something is worth dying for, you have to aim pretty high in terms of execution. When the products in question are everyday objects like potato chips or plywood, it is enough if you can convince the buyer that these are worth the customer’s money. You can’t convince anyone that his life is worth less than something that can be bought.

Some advertisements take a different approach towards death. The most visible ad, in this respect, comes from Snapdeal, which shows that you can even bargain with Yamraj if you go with the brand. So when Yamraaj appears in front of a skydiver, he is handed over some Snapdeal coupons and he leaves the bloke. Yamraaj then paints the town red, gets a facial, tries out gourmet cuisine and shops till he drops.

Snapdeal, it seems like, can give you discounts only on spas, salons, restaurants, and other personal grooming products which may not be that indispensable for life. In the other Snapdeal advertisements, Yamraaj is back—making the most of discounts while on his job; and reminding you ‘You only live once’. You get the idea, and the Yamraaj is adorable, but apart from the first advertisement, there is no connect between the brand and death. After all, if you are hungry at work, you can get Snapdeal (or any other deal) on your food even if there is no Yamraaj to tell you.

Life insurance is a sector, where you have to talk about death. While most advertisements advocate the need for insurance showing how it will benefit your family after you are gone, Future Generali shows how it is profitable to you—even after death.

It is okay to remind the customer that he ought to secure the future of his family, but to see insurance as a way of salvation is something that doesn’t go down without a hiccup. It makes the family look more like a burden than a responsibility. And to claim that one can act completely carefree about his relatives simply by buying a policy looks far fetched.

There are others who go completely bonkers with the concept. The classic example was Tata AIG General Insurance, which launched a mind-boggling campaign for ‘Shanti’, which had Naseeruddin Shah promising to provide up to Rs1 crore as personal accident cover… if the policy holder died on a national holiday. Not only was the advertisement misleading about a lower premium, but with its out-right offensive proposition, it put off everyone. Following a slew of brickbats from all directions, the product had to be withdrawn.

It is difficult to make fun of death, but there are advertisers, who have managed to pull it off—thanks to good timing and restraint. What works for these commercials is that they don’t pretend that their product is something worth dying for. Steering clear of pomposity, such commercials show how their product can give you a new lease of life, and make a strong connection. 

In most cases, the humour comes when life triumphs over death due to some ingenious placements. In Europe and USA, the grim reaper is a frequent character in advertisements; who either gets cheated, or forgets his job because he can’t resist a break.

Indian advertisers, too, have given us good ads with similar storyline. Probably the best known is of Camlin permanent markers—which brings back a dead husband. ‘Really permanent!’ says that tag. Rooted in Indian ethos, the commercial is clever and without saying a single word, it conveys the message.

It is tougher to elicit laughter at the cost of life. Only a master can pull it off; making fun of something as grim as death. In order to achieve it, advertisers must understand the concept of irony. So let us end with an outrageously funny commercial; set forth by the consistently brilliant Fevicol with their MSeal ad.

Old father is on his death bed, and the whole family has gathered around, waiting for it to happen. His son forces him to sign a will, which says that the old man bequeaths a crore to his offspring. As soon as the deed is done, the man breathes his last. The son is about to rejoice, when a drop of water falls from the leaking ceiling and washes out the ‘1’ of the Rs100,00,000.

Moral of the story? Use MSeal on leaking fixtures if you want to avoid such a situation. And, stay away from far fetched ideas if you want to sell something.



Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

Doesn't depicting Yamraj or Satan not hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus and Christians?
Making a mockery of death amounts to gross mis-selling, despicable to say the least.Be it insurance, wills or even travel.

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