The penalty was imposed for the NDTV promoters' alleged failure to disclose 'price-sensitive' information to shareholders.
The penalty had been imposed by SEBI in December 2020 for NDTV's alleged failure to disclose "price-sensitive information" on loan agreements. On November 27, 2020, SEBI barred the promoters and RRPR Holding Private Limited from the securities market for two years.
The promoters had subsequently filed an appeal against the penalty at the Securities Appellate Tribunal. The Supreme Court today asked the Roys to cooperate in the disposal of the appeal by the tribunal, which has listed the matter for final hearing on April 6.
Appearing for the appellants, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that a lot of money is needed to run a company. "It is only Times of India and the other big channels which are functioning because they have a big network,” he said, adding that the two promoters had taken a loan of Rs 375 crore from ICICI Bank in 2008, which was repaid by Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, a shell company, from which another loan was taken in 2009.
As against SEBI’s allegation that this led to the transfer of control to VCPL, amounting to a violation of regulatory norms, LiveLaw reported, Rohtagi claimed that the Roys have not transferred any shares.
LiveLaw quoted him as saying: “How can I transfer control without any transfer of shares? I have all the shares!...Who have I cheated? Why is there a penalty of Rs 25 crore and an individual penalty...This amounts to closing down the channel! We have no money!"
Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta argued that the promoters are not in a separate class who deserve special treatment. "The violations are of very serious nature," he said. "They are saying that they have not transferred the shares...Their shares are worthless. There is a direction by a statutory regulatory body that penalty has to be paid.”
Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed the arguments, saying it was "brash" of the tribunal to ask for a 50 percent deposit, LiveLaw reported.