If one is found guilty of breaking a rule before the court of law, he is supposed to serve the requisite punishment. There is no place for either media trials or for that matter a judiciary which believes it has the powers to send people to jail without a conviction. It is a real sorry state in India that despite of being the largest democracy, more than half of the people in jail are still undergoing trials and have not been proved as convicts for what they are accused. Has anyone ever thought about what the person and relatives go through, who is to bring back the lost time?

One such victim to media and justice-delayed trial is Subrata Roy. If he is guilty he needs to rot in jail but to deny him a bail every time is violation of the very principles that the Constitution of India was founded on. “I am in complete disagreement of the justice meted out by the Supreme Court to Subrata Roy. If an actor, Sanjay Dutt is allowed on permanent parole to look after an ailing wife, why is Tarun Tejpal not allowed to meet his dying mother? I know I will have an army of feminists attack me for this, but the fact is Sanjay Dutt was tried and convicted. Tarun Tejpal has been jailed, convicted and will probably be tried. Is this fair? Most importantly, is it right?” said a famous socialite.

Subrata Roy is being tried in a civil matter and is now in jail because the judges want a proposal. To send a man to jail indefinitely without allowing him bail is once against the principles of freedom and liberty that are every Indian’s rights.

Amartya Sen in his wonderful book ‘The Idea of Justice’ opines that there is an inherent difference between neeti and nyaya. One is about the process and the other is about justice. But then he goes on to explain, that justice is ultimately all about fairness. According to this logic, in Subrata Roy’s case, there has been no fairness. The socialite adds to his statement “this is what mobocracy is all about and this is what we often deem to be kangaroo justice. We all need to pause. People like me who go on television and pronounce judgment on people or those who have the faith of every Indian sitting in court-rooms and dispensing justice as if we were living in medieval times. We need to question the fairness of all we do. In that, we shall find the answers to a more robust and free India.”

We can clearly make out a very positive support for Subrata Roy outside the jail. There are many politicians, famous actors and actresses who have claimed their support for him in public. Let us pause for a minute and think what is it was us and not him in this given situation. If we all agree that being famous is why he is being misjudged, can we not come forward for his support like other cases?

Statement of Advocate Gautam Awasthi on yesterday’s Supreme Court Proceedings


“Today, we are extremely thankful to our Hon’ble Judges who have opened the path after 5 months for Saharasree to reintroduce him and his presence in the work sphere. He never could get a chance to talk to anybody. Here in the jail, Subrata Roy Sahara used to get only 35 minutes and additional few calls at times in a week.

Actually from today only the business is starting to fulfill the direction of Hon’ble Court though these are all double payments.

So, on 22nd July, 2014, we got the permission for mortgage and sale of overseas assets and today on 1st August, 2014, we are going to get the support of all kinds of communications round the clock with office staff and technical support.

Since all the assets, every Rupee, every inch of all immovable properties, every gram of movable properties were under absolute embargo no payment in compliance of order dated 26th March, 2014 could have been made. Immediately after lifting of embargo on Bank account etc. things have started improving from beginning of June and consequently a substantial part of the cash payment of Rs.5000 crores could be deposited.”

The Sahara Group has thanked the Supreme Court for lifting the freeze on its moveable and immovable assets so that it can raise the Rs 10,000 crore for part payment of dues, but also said it had repaid the bulk of money owed to investors.

“We are very thankful we got clearance of bank accounts and certain select properties,” Sudeep Seth, Sahara’s lawyer, said in a statement on the behalf of the group after the Supreme Court gave it the go-ahead Wednesday for sale of its assets in India.

“However, the fact remains that Sahara has already repaid 93 per cent of the investors, mostly in cash, and has submitted all repayment vouchers receipts and other documents in original with SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), which SEBI has to verify.”

The group said the actual repayment that was pending amounted to just Rs 2,500 crore and that there was not even a single complaint against Sahara. The group also claimed that Rs 5,600 crore of its money was already lying with the markets watchdog.

“Of course, all the money shall ultimately come back to Sahara after verifications.”

De-freezing the assets of Sahara on Wednesday, an apex court bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.K. Sikri also directed that the money so generated would have to be deposited in an account opened by the regulator.

Soon after the judgment, senior counsel Srinivasan Ganesh asked the court to grant five days’ parole to Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy to be with his ailing mother. The court asked him to file an application and said it will pass an order after the regulator’s reply.

“Today, we are reassured of justice in the Indian judiciary. Over the last 37 years, we have always been given justice on merit. We are reassured that the Indian judiciary can never go wrong,” Sahara lawyer Seth said.

“From November 2013, all of group’s bank accounts, every inch of immovable properties and movable properties were frozen and were under an embargo of the Hon’ble Court and SEBI,” he said.

“As a result, Sahara was not in a position to get or raise even Rs 100. The question is as to why Rs 5,000 crore cash plus Rs 5,000 crore bank guarantee bail order was given without lifting any embargo,” he said, referring to Roy’s quantum of the bail amount.

Seth also said the demand of Rs 20,000 crore plus interest imposed on the group to be paid to the regulator was tantamount fo Sahara being asked to pay twice for a single liability — and that, too, for one that had substantially been repaid.

“No financial institution can repay twice for one liability.”

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Two days ago, some 24 hours after Sahara’s Subrata Roy was arrested at the command of the Supreme Court, I had an interesting phone conversation with a Sahara depositor. This was someone who was not just made a deposit with Sahara in the past, but was planning to do so again soon. He knows many people who are regular Sahara depositors. He had a form with him for two schemes. One of them offered a gain of 10% for a tenure of one year, and the other, a gain of 40% for a deposit period of 48 months.

That’s also about 10%. There are several things here that those who are acquainted with the Sahara affair only through TV and newspapers would find surprising. One, there is still financial business being conducted under the Sahara brand. This example is from Jharkhand, and not from a small town either. Two, there are people who are still willing to deposit money with Sahara. This particular depositor is an educated man who has access to the entire range of financial instruments.

Three, I think there are at least some media commentators who would be surprised that there is any such thing as a Sahara depositor. And four, those who’ll try to think through this thing will see that 10% per annum is hardly an outsize or a Ponzi-like return being offered.

So why are people still willing to deposit money with Sahara? As far as I can see, simply because they started doing so in the past and the experience has not been negative. They did so in the past, got their money back with the promised returns and it just goes on, even when they have access to alternatives.

One thing about Sahara, which is getting lost in the excitement about the legal tricks that the Sahara group has been playing with Sebi and RBI, is that there is a real savings and investments business that exists. This business is likely to be illegal now, likely to be declining, it may be wrapped up in a larger money-laundering scheme, and its scale may be smaller than the claims of Sahara.

However, there really are a large number of depositors who use Sahara’s services and have done so for years, even decades. This is something that anyone who has first-hand familiarity with life in small towns of the Hindi belt can vouch for. This business still exists. When, in 2008, RBI asked Sahara to wind up this business, it should have done so in a law-abiding manner. However, it didn’t and RBI failed to detect that it didn’t.

Currently, there is a lot of noise being made about the interests of depositors by various authorities and the media. However, the actual focus and the actions do not have the depositors’ interests at heart. One reason is that there is a certain belief that these depositors don’t exist, that Sahara is entirely a money-laundering scheme.

This simply isn’t true. To my mind, the most important question today is what is the real base of investors and if there are enough assets backing their deposits. The long period over which Sahara has existed and the reasonable returns it offers make it unlikely that it’s an out-and-out ponzi scheme like Saradha in Bengal and so many others.

However, there may well be some shortfall in assets. Sahara may be a rogue financial institution. And if the rogue part of that description is true, but so is the financial institution part. The most important thing today is to provide a safe exit to real depositors. The cat and mouse game of the so-called Sahara Shri will no doubt continue to entertain all of us for a while. However, someone needs to pay some attention to the real small depositors.

By: Dhirendra Kumar CEO, Value Research



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