afaqs! news bureau

SAT postpones final hearing on Punit Goenka's plea against SEBI order

Securities Appellate Tribunal orders have restricted ZEEL's Punit Goenka and Shubhash Chandra from key positions.

The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has postponed the final hearing on a plea challenging the Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI) confirmatory order against Zee Entertainment Enterprises' (ZEEL) top executives, Punit Goenka and Shubhash Chandra. SEBI's order had barred them from holding key positions in the company and other organizations. The new hearing date is set for September 13, according to a report by PTI.

On the first day of the hearing, SAT will consider rejoinders from the counsels representing Punit Goenka and Shubhash Chandra, namely Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Navroz Seervai. SAT has also stated that it will hear rejoinders from Punit Goenka and Shubhash Chandra.

In his rejoinder, Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the confirmatory order by SEBI was issued without concluding the investigation and was based on mere speculation. He highlighted that SEBI lacked evidence beyond bank statements to support the allegations of fund round-tripping.

SEBI's confirmatory order had restricted Punit Goenka and Shubhash Chandra from assuming any directorship or other key managerial positions in ZEEL and any other organizations.

Singhvi also criticized SEBI's order as being against the public interest, especially considering the planned merger of ZEEL with Sony. The merger had received approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Senior advocate Darius Khambata represented SEBI in this case.

Punit Goenka had filed a plea with SAT challenging SEBI's confirmatory order issued on August 14. Meanwhile, SEBI had restrained both executives from holding directorial or key managerial positions in at least four Zee group companies and in the merged entity of ZEEL and Sony Pictures Networks India.

The NCLT had previously approved the merger of Zee Entertainment Enterprises on August 10. This merger is set to create a media conglomerate worth USD 10 billion, making it the largest in the country.

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