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Signal on Saradha channel sale

- Justice Shyamal Sen panel says money realised would go to depositors

Calcutta, Jan. 13: The Justice Shyamal Sen Commission today recommended that the assets of four TV channels owned by the Saradha Group be sold and the proceeds used to pay back the depositors.

After the Saradha Group went bust early last April, some employees of the channels have been running the programmes with help from senior Trinamul leaders, but there have been backlogs in clearing their dues. The four channels are Tara News, Tara Muzik, Tara Punjabi and Tara South Asia.

“Some employees of the four TV channels wrote a letter to the commission saying these channels can be sold to private entrepreneurs… I also felt that money of some depositors can be refunded with the sales proceeds, besides clearing the dues of the employees. So I recommended that the process for selling the channels could be started through floating of tenders,” Justice Sen told The Telegraph.

Earlier, Saradha Group owner Sudipta Sen had also made a similar proposal during the hearing of the commission, but Sen had not accepted the suggestion. As realising value from the assets of the Saradha Group is also a mandate for the commission, the sale of the channels will have to be steered by the office of Shyamal Sen, said a senior government officer.

Shyamal Sen, however, did not clarify whether he had initiated any process to find potential buyers of the channels. The question of what will happen to the employees of the channels was not made clear till this evening.

“It seems he can start the process only after the government agrees to his recommendation because the government has to carry out the sale of the channels by floating tenders under the aegis of the commission,” said an officer. No one from the government wanted to comment on the recommendation.

Justice Shyamal Sen also said today that he had identified some of the buildings, bungalows and flats owned by the deposit-mobilising company, which could be sold to realise the assets. “Work for some of the buildings and other properties owned by the company has been lying incomplete and the contractors are not working further for want of money. I am planning to ask banks to issue overdraft facility to the contractors for completing the construction work. Once the work is finished, we can sell the properties and refund the money to both the depositors and banks,” Justice Sen explained.

The commission has also asked 16 Saradha investors to produce documents after they filed applications seeking possession of the flats and land in Bishnupur, South 24-Parganas, where a real estate project of the fund-mobilising company was coming up.

“The applicants made part payments. We asked them to produce the payment documents. We will ask them to clear the dues as mentioned in the agreement. Once it is done, we will register the properties in the name of the applicants so that they can get possession,” said a commission source.