Supreme Court Order: Sahara unmasked

Regulatory Inaction
Until SEBI acted on Roshan Lal’s complaint to go after Sahara’s humongous, non-transparent fund-raising, every regulator had fallen silent after a cursory investigation. Court documents show that the massive Rs17,400 crore raised by Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (Saharas) was coolly being funnelled into M/s Sahara India—a registered partnership firm of the promoters. Did our tax sleuths investigate how this large sum was deployed? Isn’t it curious that the Sahara Pariwar does not figure among India’s highest taxpayers, but its advertisement titled “Emotionally Speaking” claims that the Income Tax department is holding back a massive Rs2,000 crore in refunds? Is this even true?

Why don’t government watchdogs bark about Sahara? This too came out in the litigation, in a very positive way. A strong affidavit by Sanjay Shorey, joint director in the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA), exposed how Sahara had been manipulating the ROC, Kanpur, to back its dubious claims through sworn affidavits before the Allahabad high court. MCA’s affidavit, which Arvind Datar considers a turning point in the case, backed SEBI’s action to the hilt and strongly refuted its own ROC’s claims.

Silencing the Media
With the media spewing information about bigger scams (coal, iron ore, telecom) everyday, it seems contradictory to say that they are reticent about Sahara. So how does one explain the fact that no television channel debated the path-breaking SC judgement? Sahara’s belligerent full-page advertisements in the press and lavish commercials are a large enough source of revenue to silence many media houses. The galaxy of top lawyers hired to defend its bizarre claims and audacious obfuscation even before the apex court and limitless funds for litigation are other deterrents. That is probably why mainstream media have never questioned Sahara’s endless money supply.

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