The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has reserved its decision in the case involving Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka.
The hearing of Goenka's appeal against Sebi's confirmatory order had previously been postponed by the SAT until 27 September.
After hearing the request for more than five sessions starting on August 30, the appellate tribunal reserved decisions in the case. The SAT expressed orally at the hearing that it was dissatisfied with the length of time the market regulator took to conduct its probe, noting that "SEBI can't keep going with its investigation." It further mentioned that the subject is of public concern because ZEEL and Sony just merged.
Punit Goenka and his father Subhash Chandra Goenka have been barred by Sebi from holding any director or managerial positions in any publicly traded firms on the basis that they are accused of transferring funds from Zee to other Essel Group companies without obtaining the required board clearance.
Prior to his resignation in response to SEBI's accusations, Goenka served as Zee's former CEO. Goenka and Chandra's presence at Zee, according to SEBI, would have an improper effect and obstruct the probe.
The National Company Law Tribunal's (NCLT) approval of the merger of ZEEL with Culver Max Entertainment, formerly Sony Pictures Networks India, coincides with these developments.
Punit is also barred from taking over as MD and CEO of the combined Sony-Zee company by virtue of the judgment. The assets of Sony and Zee are being combined to form a $10 billion media conglomerate.
All the requisite regulatory approvals, including from the National Company Law Tribunal, the Competition Commission of India, and stock exchanges for their planned merger have been received by Sony and Zee.