Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Supreme Court

SEBI versus Sahara

On 27/10/2012 SEBI came out with half page advertisements drawing attention of Bond Holders of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL). It said – DON’T BE FORCED !!! DON’T BE MISGUIDED !!!

The Supreme Court vide its order dt. 31/8/2012 had directed the two Sahara companies to refund the amounts collected by them through red herring prospectuses along with interest at 15% p.a. to SEBI within 3 months i.e., by 30/11/2012 and to furnish all relevant documents to SEBI within 10 days.

SEBI ad said the Saharas have not submitted the relevant documents. SEBI has been receiving complaints from investors that they are being forced by Saharas/their agents/officials to switch-over their investments to other schemes in other Sahara Group Companies. Some investors have also complained that their investments have been switched over to the said schemes of Sahara Group Companies without their consent. SEBI advised the subscribes to the Bonds of SIRECL and SHICL to hold on to the original documents relating to Bonds and produce the same to SEBI when called for an not to yield to any pressure from any person for converting or switching over their investments in Bonds to any other Schemes like Q Shop etc.

Sahara owes 24,000 crore rupees to investors. It is trying to avoid making those payments. Sahara came out with full page ads on 1/9/2012 claiming they have done lot of good work but instead of getting a pat on their back faced injustice from a faulty system. Sahara blamed Income Tax Department, Reserve Bank of India and the machinery (SEBI?) that presented the facts incorrectly before the Respected Judges of Hon’ble Courts. Sahara did not say they will honour the Supreme Court judgment and refund the amounts to investors. Instead of spending crores of rupees on ads it would have been better for Sahara to use that money to refund the investors.

Jaitley on judges

On 30/9/2012 Arun Jaitley spoke at a BJP legal cell conference. He said there are two types of judges. Those who know the law and those who know the law minister. Best lawyers do not want to become judges. There is clamour for post-retirement jobs which is adversely affecting the impartiality of the judiciary. Through judicial verdicts post-retirement jobs are being created. When he was law minister he was wary of meeting retiring judges for the fear that they would hand him their bio-data.

Salman Khurshid is the law minister. Arun Jaitley implies some judges have delivered verdicts as desired by Salman Khurshid in return for post-retirement jobs. It will be nice if Arun Jaitley names the judges and verdicts.

Retired judges head various commissions and tribunals. Commissions of Inquiry get extensions. The inquiry that should be over in six months stretches to 20 years or so. Tribunals headed by retired judges should be disbanded. Disputes before them should go to High Courts or Supreme Court. There are other issues. Corruption in judiciary is one. Government amending the law retrospectively when it receives an unfavourable verdict is another.

Nitin Gadkari suggested a gap of two years for retired judges to take up new jobs. That is good for justice.

Most people do not want to retire and judges are no exception. The retirement age of judges should remain as it is and there should be no extension.

Judges as information commissioners

The Supreme Court judgment on the composition of information commissions is a new milestone in judicial overreach. The judges have said information commissions are judicial tribunals, only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions. The benches of information commissions should have two members, one of them a judicial member. Lawyers with 20 years experience are also eligible as judicial members. The bench comprising Justices A. K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar directed the central government to amend the RTI Act. Some busybody had challenged the qualifications in RTI Act. The judges qualified themselves.

It is not for judiciary to direct legislature to pass or amend a law. Judiciary is not above executive and legislature. This judgment gives employment to judges after retirement. If serving judges are appointed court cases will be delayed. Some days back CJI Sarosh H. Kapadia had warned against judicial overreach. This judgment ignores that warning.

Retired judges are appointed as chairpersons of human rights commissions, Press Council, inquiry commissions and so on. This is another opportunity for them.

Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist, said “It appears that the Supreme Court has created over 50% reservations for retired judges in information commissions. I hope we are not heading for hearing after hearing and reserved verdicts like in the courts, thus prolonging decisions for years.”

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