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Complex Lodhi Road New Delhi-110003 To Sri K.V.L.Narayan Rao President And Smt.Annie Joseph, Secretary General News Broadcasters Association 01-103, Paramount Tower C-17, Community Center, Janakpuri New Delhi 110 058.
Copy to: Securities And Exchange Board of India Sri U.K.Sinha Chairman Plot No.C4-A,'G' Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Board For Control of Cricket in India Sri N Srinivasan President "CRICKET CENTRE" Wankhede Stadium,
Bandra (East), Mumbai 400051 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
'D' Road, Churchgate, MUMBAI 400 020.0
Sub : Earnestly requesting the media members to not accept advertisements from entities in the Sahara Group as the monies thereof appear to be illegal and could represent the proceeds of certain crimes Dear Sir 1. My name is Viswanath Chaturvedi. I have instituted a number of anti-corruption cases in several High Courts and the Supreme Court and have been instrumental in exposing corruption at numerous places. My complete address is: S/o. Shri M.P.Chaturvedi, R/o. No.335, Second Floor, Double Storey, New Rajendra Nagar, New Delhi 110 060. Mobile: +91 9868984938. Email: email@example.com I invite your attention to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 31-Aug-2012 in Civil Appeal No..9813 OF 2011 [Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited Versus Securities and Exchange Board of India] combined with Civil Appeal No. 9833 OF 2011 [Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited Versus Securities and Exchange Board of India]. A copy of the said judgment is attached herewith. (Annexure A). You may note from the aforesaid judgment that the companies referred therein are part of what is publicly referred to as the “Sahara Group” or “Sahara Parivar”. The Supreme Court has adjudged that the scheme floated by the aforesaid two companies
to collect monies from the public was grossly and wholly illegal and has therefore, directed a timebound refund of Rs.24029.73 Crores together with interest at the rate of 15% per annum thereof. 4. It is common knowledge that the “Sahara Group” is the largest advertiser in the mainstream media, both print and electronic in India. They are the sponsors of the Indian Cricket Team and several other sporting teams. This nexus might explain the fact that the mainstream media simply steered clear of airing any discussion or debate on the aforesaid judgment and decree against the two Sahara companies. As the media has generally retained complete silence on the fraud perpetrated by the aforesaid two companies, in order to shed some perspective on the seriousness of the conduct of the aforesaid Sahara companies as detailed in the very judgment of the Supreme Court, I herewith attach two blogs by independent critics – one by Sri K.V.Dhananjay, Advocate, Supreme Court and another by Smt. Sucheta Dalal, the journalist credited with exposing several financial frauds and scams, most notably the Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh scams. (Annexure B and C respectively) It is not my intention here to compel the mainstream media to discuss or to debate the aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court or upon the subsequent developments thereof. The media in any democracy has a choice over what shall be its content and I fully respect such choice even when it is plainly evident that its choice is informed less by public concern and largely by advertising revenue.
However, it has become necessary for the mainstream media in India to notice certain subsequent developments in the aforesaid case as such developments cast too much cloud on the legality of the part of the media continuing to accept advertisement monies from companies in the Sahara Group. The Securities and Exchange Board of India had warned on 27-Oct2012 that subscribers entitled to a refund from the two Sahara companies should not be misled into converting their anticipated refund into an investment in yet another opaque venture floated yet again by the Sahara Group by the name of Q-Shop. Added to it, a small sample of woes faced by investors is put up on a website sponsored by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India. A copy of the same is attached herewith. (Annexure D) It should, therefore, be noted that as things currently stand, the very legality of monies expended by various Sahara entities to advertise themselves or their products in the media is under doubt as these Sahara entities do not disclose the source of their funds to the financial regulators themselves. That is, when the financial regulators themselves are so clueless on the source and application of funds in respect of various Sahara entities, it would be completely unwarranted on the part of any reasonable person to assume that the media that would accept monies from the Sahara companies for its massive advertisements is somehow satisfied that such money is not in any manner connected to the illegal scheme floated by the two Sahara Companies that have suffered a Court decree against them.
10. When no less than the apex court of the country has characterized the money soliciting operations of the two Sahara companies as concoted, fabricated and fictitious, there arises a heightened duty on the part of the professional media houses in India to probe whether the advertisement monies offered to them by other Sahara group entities are not connected and are not drawn from the illegal schemes so shown in the aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court. 11. As the regulators in charge of enforcing stricter professional standards amongst your members, you have a professional, legal, ethical and of course, a moral duty to restrain your members from accepting monies from the Sahara Group companies unless your members individually reach an objective satisfaction that the advertisement monies offered to them are not at all connected to the schemes floated by the two Sahara companies that have suffered judgment of the Supreme Court. Considering also that the two Sahara companies in question did not even provide the Supreme Court with information on the application of the funds in question, even a chance satisfaction already reached by a member of the media merely upon the say of the Sahara company in question may only be termed as ‘spurious’. 12. However, I have also made certain enquiries and have learnt that as of today, none of the media members in India have chosen to probe the advertisement monies tendered to them by the Sahara Group companies for the purpose of satisfying themselves that they are not contributing to the disspitation of funds that should be simply returned to its rightful owners – members of the
unsuspecting public. Such conduct may only be termed as a reckless disregard for the law and of the judgment of the Supreme Court, if not a deliberate and intentional pretence about the tainted nature of the advertisement money offered to it. Unfortunately, such conduct on the part of the media also makes them fully complicit in the crimes engaged in by the two Sahara companies in question. 13. Also, a day after the judgment of the Supreme Court was delivered, the two Sahara companies had issued full page advertisements in the leading newspapers of the country for the purpose of assuring persons entitled to refund that all is well with the companies at issue. Such advertisements are indeed legitimate to the two companies concerned and I am not saying here that the two Sahara companies are not entitled to defend themselves or to assure their investors through paid advertisements. I cannot say so and they are fully entitled to advertise their asset-status, creditworthiness and repaying position. Rather, when the monies that were illegally solicited by the two Sahara companies are again chanelled to promote the activities of another group company or of yet another opaque or fraudulent scheme, that spending would be an illegal diversion of funds and the licensed media organizations in India cannot and should not aid in such diversion of funds by the two delinquent Sahara companies. 14. Advertisements by a Sahara company in the media whether to promote Q-Shop or any other similar product or service or to promote the Indian cricket team or any other sporting event or team most likely represents the illegal diversion of public monies
that has been judicially decreed to belong to the unsuspecting public. And, any failure by the two Sahara companies to refund the entire sum of money illegally raised by them from the public is a failure that would be improperly compounded and aided should your media members knowingly accept advertisement monies from Sahara group companies without embarking on a reasonable enquiry to identify whether such monies form part of the court adjudged Rs.24029.73 Crores and the interest thereon at 15%. 15. Please note that while I do hold both of your offices and the current incumbents in the greatest of respects, I am also compelled to add that due to the public interest nature of the request contained herein, I would be compelled to move an appropriate court of law should this request go unheeded. Of course, I am greatly hopeful that this representation will be addressed with the full seriousness that the issue demands. In Earnestness Vishwanath Chaturvedi
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