One of India’s top corporate houses, Sahara, may end up insolvent and crores of investors may be the losers. Although the Supreme Court has extended group chairman Subrata Roy aka Sahara Sri bail with a condition that the group pays up ₹300 crore to the Security and Exchange Bureau of India (SEBI), what the group has shown to the apex court is a list of 60 properties, out of which the Income Tax Department has already provisionally attached 47 properties.
This fact was precisely the reason for the Supreme Court to react that the Sahara Group has “taken the court for a ride”, although it extended the parole of Roy till October 24, 2016. There was a rider to that. By that time, at least a “road map” should be prepared by Roy as to how his group would pay the balance of ₹12,000 crore to the SEBI.
This astronomical figure apart, an income tax officer requesting anonymity, said crores of have-nots of Indians have been cheated as Sahara Sri started para banking in the country. His fellows used to go to the halwa wala, mithai wala, press wala and the likes and would advise them to deposit ₹10 a day for rainy seasons. This has been unaccounted, a retired IT officer said. With this, Sahara Airlines was started.
The so-called offices were on rent and the aircraft, too, were on rent. Sahara Airlines folded up. Now the question is how the group would pay Rs 12,000 crore to the SEBI, leave alone those have-nots. This question was not addressed to by even the Supreme Court.
All that the bench of Justice AR Dave and Justice AK Sikri said was that the Sahara group would file an affidavit as to how the remaining balance of ₹12,000 crore would be paid to SEBI, but what about those unknown people, asked the retired IT officer.
Also, the group was ordered to explain the sources of ₹18,000 crore it had earlier claimed to have paid “investors” unknown hitherto.
Senior Counsel for SEBI Arvind Dattar told the court that Sahara group was liable to pay ₹37,000 crore with interest to the market regulator (SEBI), of which the principal amount payable was ₹24,000 crore. Even without interest will it be possible for Sahara Group to pay the amount? It’s a million dollar question doing the rounds in corporate India. With one Vijay Mallaya absconding, another Sahara Sri, now on interim bail, in jail for about two years, this is corporate India for you and me.