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Does Sahara group come under RTI Act? Sebi gets a query!

Last updated on: May 29, 2013 13:02 IST

Does Sahara group come under RTI Act? Sebi gets a query!

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A long-drawn case involving funds raised by two Sahara firms through 'various illegalities' seems to have made Sebi a preferred agency for all kinds of queries about the group, with the latest being whether the Lucknow-based conglomerate falls under the purview of RTI Act.

After Sebi rejected the information sought from it through an Right To Information application in this regard, the appellant approached the Appellate Authority but the appeal has been rejected there also.

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Image: Sahara group chief Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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Does Sahara group come under RTI Act? Sebi gets a query!

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The market regulator is involved in a long-drawn battle with Sahara group over refund of an estimated Rs 24,000 crore (Rs 240 billion) raised by its two firms from the public investors without getting required approvals and following statutory procedures.

Sebi is currently in the process of refunding the money to genuine investors after verifying their credentials.

As per a Supreme Court order in this matter, the refunds are being made from an amount of Rs 5,120 crore (Rs 51.2 billion) deposited by Saharas with Sebi towards the repayment process.

Sahara claims that it has already refunded more than Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion) directly to the bondholders of its two firms and the total outstanding liability towards refund is less than Rs 5,120 crore deposited with Sebi.

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Image: Subrata Roy accompanied by his security leaves the Sebi headquarters in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Does Sahara group come under RTI Act? Sebi gets a query!

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In the meantime, Sebi received an RTI application from an individual on March 14 wherein he sought 'information regarding whether or not Sahara India Pariwar fell within the purview of the RTI Act alongwith the reasons thereof'.

Through a letter dated April 5, the market regulator responded to the RTI query wherein it informed the appellant that 'Sebi did not have any information in respect of the query raised vide his application'.

Consequently, the appellant filed an appeal earlier this month before Sebi's Appellate Authority and reiterated his request for the same information.

Hearing the appeal, the Appellate Authority observed in an order passed on Tuesday that 'the appellant, in this appeal, has neither brought up any specific deficiency in the response of the respondent nor has he raised any specific grounds of appeal for my consideration'.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy gestures as he arrives at the Securities and Exchange Board of India headquarters in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Does Sahara group come under RTI Act? Sebi gets a query!

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Rejecting the appeal, the Appellate Authority said in its order that the appellant did not make any ground for interference in Sebi's response to the RTI query and the appeal was liable to be rejected for this reason alone.

Besides, there was no reason to 'disbelieve the response provided by the respondent (Sebi)" that the market regulator did not have any information on whether Sahara group fell within the purview of RTI Act.

"In view of these observations, I find that the respondent cannot be obliged to provide the information sought by the appellant, in his application, as such information was not available with Sebi," the Appellate Authority said in its order and dismissed the appeal.


Image: A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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