afaqs! news bureau

No interim relief for Puneet Goenka against SEBI order

The regulator’s confirmatory order barred Goenka from holding any key managerial positions in Zee Group companies.

The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) refused interim relief to former ZEE chief Punit Goenka against a Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) order that bars him from holding key managerial positions in Zee group firms and merged Zee-Sony entity. 

In a hearing on August 30, SAT also expressed unhappiness with the amount of time taken by SEBI for the investigation. A bench led by Justice Tarun Agarwala said, “We don’t agree with the impugned order. We are not satisfied with eight months. This can’t go on indefinitely. The merger has happened with the consensus of the shareholders. There is public interest involved. If the public says that he should be the director, then it does have a bearing.”

The tribunal has directed it to file its response by September 4. The next hearing will be on September 8 for the final order.

Goenka had approached the tribunal last Friday to seek interim relief against the SEBI's confirmatory order. Appearing for Goenka, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that it was unfair for SEBI to ask his client not to occupy any key managerial positions till it completes the investigation. Further, he stressed that the order was under SEBI's jurisdiction as a market regulator and that no public interest would be harmed if Goenka was made a director in ZEEL.

In June, after finding that Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka had siphoned off funds, SEBI banned them from holding any directorial or key managerial position in listed companies or their subsidiaries.

However, on August 14, the market regulator modified the order, barring them from directorial positions in four Zee group companies, including the merged Zee-Sony entity, until the probe is completed. It set a deadline of eight months to complete the probe.

The Bench asked the regulator to file a reply in the matter by September 4 and a rejoinder thereafter by Goenka by September 7. The final hearing on the matter will be on September 8.

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