The Securities Appellate Tribunal on Tuesday posted for March 23 its final hearing on a plea by Sahara chief Subrata Roy against market regulator Sebi's attachment order on bank accounts and properties of two group firms and their top executives.
The matter relates to a Supreme Court direction ordering refund of more than Rs 24,000 crore (Rs 240 billion) of investors' money raised by two Sahara group firms - Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd - through issue of bonds, wherein Sebi has been asked to facilitate the refund.
After expiry of the court-set deadline for the refund, Sebi last month issued attachment orders against the two firms and their top executives including Subrata Roy.
Roy has appealed to SAT against the attachment orders.
After hearing both the sides, SAT Presiding Officer P K Malhotra said the matter would be taken up for disposal expeditiously and posted the matter for final hearing on March 23. He, however, refused to give any interim relief.
"The final hearing will be in Mumbai on March 23, 2013. In view of the early hearing granted, we do not consider it necessary to pass any interim order...," Malhotra said.
In its latest order in this long-running case, Sebi last week said the companies have not complied with the Supreme Court orders and therefore it was compelled to pass the attachment orders.
During the hearing, the Sahara counsel sought interim relief for industrialist Subrata Roy Sahara whose bank accounts have also been ordered to be frozen. The counsel submitted that SAT should at least give an interim relief by directing to de-freeze Roy's accounts.
However, Sebi counsel argued that there was no need for interim relief in the case.
The apex court had passed its first order in this case on August 31, 2012 and Sebi was asked to facilitate the refund.
In December 2012, the group was allowed to pay the money in three instalments, including an immediate payment of Rs 5,120 crore (Rs 51.2 billion), followed by an instalment of Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) in January first week and remainder by February first week.
Saharas have paid Rs 5,120 crore to Sebi and claim that this amount itself is more than the total outstanding liability towards the bondholders of the two companies.
Sebi last month also issued public notices cautioning the general public and investors against dealing with the two Sahara group firms and their top executives due to an order for attachment of their assets.
On the other hand, Sahara Group has claimed that the actions taken by Sebi were based on "old facts" and the orders for attaching assets of individuals is incorrect on part of the market regulator.
In an unusual development last week, Sahara group also claimed that it fears income tax raids on it at Sebi's behest.