Sahara Cooperative Societies' Depositors Can Submit Refund Claims through Ministry Portal: Govt
Moneylife Digital Team 25 July 2023
Depositors of the Sahara group credit cooperative societies—Sahara Credit Cooperative Society Ltd, Saharayn Universal Multipurpose Society Ltd, Humara India Credit Cooperative Society Ltd and Stars Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd, can submit claims for refund on the new portal set up by the Union ministry of cooperation, the Lok Sabha was informed. 
In a written reply, Amit Shah, minister of cooperation, says, "In compliance of the Supreme Court's order dated 29 March 2023, Rs5,000 crore have been transferred from 'Sahara-SEBI Refund Account' to 'Sahara-CRCS Refund Account'. Accordingly, an online portal, 'Sahara-CRCS Refund portal' has been developed through StockHolding Document Management Services Ltd (SDMS) for submission of claims by the genuine depositors of four multi-state cooperative societies of Sahara group."
"Necessary checks and balances have been incorporated in the portal to ensure that only the legitimate deposits of the genuine depositors are refunded. The portal was launched on 18 July 2023 and can be accessed through the ministry of cooperation website  and," the minister says.
Members of parliament (MPs) Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo and Dr Sukanta Majumdar have asked for details of the investors who applied and received the refund from the government and the online and offline procedure of filing claim applications by depositors of Sahara credit cooperative societies. 
According to Mr Shah, genuine depositors of these (Sahara group credit cooperative) societies may log into the portal and submit their refund claims by filing an online application and uploading requisite documents, i.e., proof of their deposits and claims. 
"Only claims filed through the online portal will be entertained. Subject to fund availability, the payment to the genuine depositors will be credited to their bank account within 45 days after filing their online claims and they will be intimated (of) the status through SMS or portal. The portal will benefit genuine depositors of the Sahara group of cooperative credit societies who have not been refunded their legitimate dues for a long time. The helpline number and user manual along with frequently asked questions (FAQs), are available on the portal for guidance and assistance of depositors. The depositors can also submit claim applications with the assistance of about 5.5 lakh common service centres (CSCs) across the country," the minister says.
In March this year, the apex court allowed an application filed by the Union government seeking a Rs5,000 crore allocation to pay back to the depositors of the Sahara group of cooperative societies out of the nearly Rs25,000 crore deposited with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Union ministry of cooperation had filed an application seeking directions from the apex court to transfer Rs5,000 crore out of an unutilised amount of Rs23,937 crore (lying in the Sahara-SEBI refund account) to be disbursed against the legitimate dues of depositors of Sahara group of cooperatives societies.
A bench headed by justice MR Shah and comprising justice CT Ravikumar directed to transfer Rs5,000 crore from the Rs24,979.67 crore in the Sahara-SEBI refund account to the central registrar of cooperative societies to pay it to genuine depositors of the Sahara group of cooperative societies.
"The disbursement shall be supervised and monitored by Justice R Subhash Reddy, former judge of this court, with the able assistance of Gaurav Agarwal, advocate, who is appointed as amicus curiae to assist Justice Reddy as well as the central registrar of cooperative societies in disbursing the amount to the genuine depositors of the Sahara group of cooperative societies," the SC says. (Read: Sahara: SC Allows Govt's Plea Seeking Allocation of Rs5,000 Crore To Repay Depositors)
Interestingly, Moneylife Foundation had made a similar plea to SEBI in December 2020 since the regulator is sitting on Rs24,000 crore funds collected from the two Sahara realty companies which had issued optionally convertible bonds without regulatory permission over 15 years ago. A landmark order of the Supreme Court in August 2012 forced Sahara to deposit the funds collected with SEBI.
Moneylife Foundation, in a representation to SEBI, had appealed to it to consider returning at least Rs3,000 crore of the Sahara Cooperative Society that was inadvertently transferred to SEBI, according to an order of the central registrar of cooperative societies. SEBI did not bother to respond.
Separately, Moneylife Foundation filed three intervention applications in a civil contempt petition case (SEBI vs Sahara No. 412 of 2012), making the same plea before the SC. The next hearing was scheduled for the 18th, 19th and 20th of April 2023 to complete all pending interim applications and the main contempt case.
In January, the apex court had directed SEBI and Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd to file responses to three intervention applications filed by Moneylife Foundation.
The application has submitted investor data of 240 people collated and verified from the Telegram channel. The total amount claimed by the investors in the list submitted to the apex court is approximately Rs15 crore. These are individuals who are small-time investors who were methodically persuaded to part with their hard-earned money to contribute to various schemes under the Sahara group. The intervention application is also accompanied by affidavits from two investors whose details have been included to showcase the hardship and difficulties the aggrieved depositors face.
Moneylife Foundation has requested the apex court to direct SEBI to refund the amounts due to the investors of cooperative societies belonging to the Sahara group after due verification of their claims. (Read: Supreme Court Directs SEBI, Sahara To Respond in Interim Applications Filed by Moneylife Foundation)
Last year in August, the government told the Lok Sabha that 129.6mn (million) investors have Rs112,454.37 crore stuck in these six companies. Sahara Credit Cooperative Society owes a maximum Rs47,245 crore to investors, followed by SIRECL at Rs19,400.87 crore and Saharayn Universal Multipurpose Society at Rs18,000 crore.
"As regard Sahara India Group not being able to pay back the investors of other schemes, it is informed that the principal amount raised under RHP of OFCDs of SIRCEL and SHICL is Rs25,781.37 crore against which only Rs15,506.81 crore has been deposited in SEBI-Sahara Refund Account and SEBI has been facilitating the repayment of principal and interest to the investors who invested in OFCDs of SIRECL and SHICL," Pankaj Chaudhary, minister of state for finance, says in a written reply. (Read: Sahara India Group: Rs1.12 Lakh Crore of 129.6mn Investors Remains 'Stuck', Says Govt)
You may also want to read our detailed coverage on the Sahara issue here
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