Justice Grinds Slowly

Those of us who watched with fascination how Subrata Roy seemed to get away with full-page advertisements and interviews attacking the capital market regulator are relieved that the word ‘contempt’ is even being discussed in the apex court.

It is said, “the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.” This is especially true in India and a change in judges or forum can make all the difference. Those of us who watched with fascination how Subrata Roy seemed to get away with full-page advertisements and interviews attacking the capital market regulator are relieved that the word ‘contempt’ is even being discussed in the apex court. A day before the July-end hearings, Sahara again publicly attacked SEBI and the SEBI chairman, accusing them of trying to ‘destroy Sahara’ with patently false claims and being ‘singled out for punishment’.
Such public attacks prior to court hearings were unheard of in India.

Sahara dared to publish its version of events leading up to the court battle, even though there is a path-breaking and extremely detailed Supreme Court judgement (31 August 2012) ordering it to refund over Rs24,000 crore raised through Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. A quick reading of Sahara’s release only reveals how many senior bureaucrats, officers of the court and those in regulatory positions were willing to blindly endorse Sahara’s stand that it could raise thousands of crores of rupees, without scrutiny. It claimed to have received favourable legal opinions from “five legal luminaries, including two former Chief Justices of India and one ex-Chairman of Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT)”;  in addition to the law ministry “with the signature of the Minister Veerappa Moily”. The company deliberately obfuscates the fact that the issue is not about whether money is raised from an unlisted entity, but the quantum and number of people from whom it is raised that puts it in the domain of the capital market regulator.



Such is Sahara’s influence over the Indian judicial system that, on 18th July, the two-judge bench of the Supreme court declared: "No court or tribunal will interfere with our August 31, 2012, order. We are annoyed by the SAT order. What business does SAT have to interfere with the Supreme Court judgement.” In another signal of displeasure, it also transferred Sahara cases pending before the Allahabad High Court to itself. The contempt issue itself has been adjourned for another hearing.

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