In a fresh setback to Sahara, the Himachal Pradesh High Court restrained the Lucknow-based group and its entities on Monday from collecting money from the general public through any of the schemes floated by them.
Passing an interim order restraining the Sahara Group companies from collection of public money, the court also said that the matter can be further investigated by the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
The order was passed following a petition against five entities -- namely Sahara India Parivar, Subrata Roy Sahara, Sahara Credit Cooperative Society Limited, Sahara Q Shop Unique Product Range Limited and Sahara Q Gold Mart Limited.
Hearing a petition against Sahara firms, a division bench of High Court, comprising of Acting Chief Justice R B Mishra and Justice V K Sharma, said that a prima facie case is made out against them and passed an interim order restraining the companies from making any transactions through any of their bank accounts without prior permission of RBI and Sebi.
Listing the matter for further hearing on April 22, the court also directed the enforcement directorate to give a response/status on money laundering charges against Sahara Group of companies, as alleged by the petitioner.
The petitioner alleged that Sahara Group of Companies was "endeavouring to collect huge money from innocent public and are intending to bring a scheme of Sahara Q Shop to bring a chain of their consumers merchandise retail ventures for supply of consumer goods for various customers."
The petitioner, Manjeet Sehgal, argued that Sahara Group should be restrained from collecting money through schemes floated by them and sought appropriate directions to the Reserve Bank and Sebi for examining the status and the quantum of money collected by the companies in their various schemes.
The interim order came on a day when market regulator Sebi summoned Sahara group chief Subrata Roy and three other top executives before it on April 10 to finalise the assets to be sold for refund of the amount to the investors.
The High Court bench also said, "It has been brought to our notice that the Supreme Court directed two Sahara group companies, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd to refund a sum of Rs 24,000 crores to the investors through Sebi."
Referring to another judgement of the Supreme Court, the High Court said that the the financial swindlers, who make false promises of attractive returns to the gullible investors, need to be dealt with strongly.
The court further said small amounts collected from a substantial number of individual depositors culminate into huge amounts of money and these collections are later diverted to third parties, leaving innocent depositors in the lurch.
The petitioner alleged that various deposit schemes have been floated in different states, including Himachal Pradesh, to collect huge money from the general public, without compliance to the relevant regulations.