With various courts being on holidays and what not it’s been pretty quiet on the ongoing legal battles surrounding Speak Asia.
As it stands now
- the Supreme Court had set a date of August 8th to settle the issue of payment to the 115 petitioners of writ 383
- the defamation case against Multiscreen Media is back in court on the 18th June (Speak Asia added SMS Satellite (Singapore) Pte Ltd. as defendant #6 on the 7th May)
- the defamation case against Star News seems to have been quietly dropped (unless I’m missing something?)
- Speak Asia trying to stop police investigations in the districts of Raigad and Thane are set for a decision on the 26th June
- The Andhra Pradesh court continues to give Tarak Bajpai’s case to quash a FIR against Speak Asia a low priority, with the latest hearing having been continuously pushed back for around two weeks now
- Speak Asia trying to stop the CID from investigating them in the Supreme Court is next due back in court on the 5th of July
and of course finally there’s the All India SpeakAsia Panelist Association’s (AISPA) writ 3611, which seeks to ultimately prohibit Mumbai’s EOW from investigating Speak Asia and its defacto management over at AISPA.
Under the pretense that the Supreme Court was going to address any legal matters both civil and criminal surrounding Speak Asia, AISPA managed to convince the Mumbai High Court to put a stay on the investigation and arrests in the case they were then in the middle of.
The stay was to remain in effect until clarification was obtained by the EOW from the Supreme Court as to whether or not writ 383 would have any effect on the criminal case the EOW were conducting.
Subsequently the EOW approached the Supreme Court and got their answer on May 10th:
(the) pendency of this matter (writ 383) either before the Mediator or before this Court will not hamper with the investigation.
Not surprising at all, considering the Supreme Court had never mentioned anything regarding criminal investigations or arrests under the Solomon James writ 383 hearings, a fact the EOW had maintained since March.
Although they didn’t have to, to clarify the matter with the Mumbai High Court the EOW filed an application to vacate the stay on their investigation on the 30th of May.
This application was heard three days ago on the 13th of June and resulted in the Mumbai High Court clarifying that
it has been observed that the investigation should not be hampered in any manner, which presupposes that the Supreme Court has permitted the investigating agency to continue with the investigation.
As such, if the above was true then ‘the question of vacating the stay order, granted by this Court, does not arise‘, meaning the EOW were free to carry on their investigation and had been since the Supreme Court clarified its position and made the May 10th order.
Not too happy about this and no doubt fearing the restart of the EOW’s investigation, AISPA’s counsel objected stating
that no such liberty has been given by the Apex Court and the investigation cannot be continued in the light of the stay order passed by this Court.
How AISPA’s counsel are asserting this when the Supreme Court clearly stated on May 10th that writ 383 ‘will not hamper with the (EOW’s) investigation‘ remains a mystery.
In any case, the High Court asked AISPA’s counsel to submit their asserting via affidavit and placed on the record and placed for hearing on the 18th June, this coming Monday.
Had there of been no objection on AISPA’s behalf the petition would have been disposed of last Wednesday, as the EOW’s stay vacation petition was deemed “unwarranted” by the High Court. This is due to the matter of the Supreme Court case affecting the criminal investigation being wholly clarified by the court itself, meaning there’s no stay on the investigation.
As unnecessary as it appears to be for the EOW to have approached the High Court with a stay vacation petition, one can imagine Ashok Bahirwani and the rest of AISPA management would have been parading down to the High Court wavings flags and banners proclaiming the EOW were in contempt of the previous court order had they not have filed the petition and simply resumed their investigation, so it appears to have been a bit of a lose-lose situation for the EOW. Better to be safe than sorry I suppose.
Writ 3611 is still slated for its next hearing on the 28th June so it’s unclear whether or not Monday’s criminal application hearing will officially count as the next hearing in the writ 3611 matter or if the two will be treated as separate cases (I doubt they will, seeing as the application seems to have been filed within the writ petition 3611 case itself).
In any case the EOW are satisfied the Supreme Court have given them their blessing with Additional Commissioner of the EOW, Rajvardhan Sinha announcing yesterday that “we have started our investigation again“.
Along with this announcement some other interesting fact pertaining to Speak Asia’s operations were also made public:
“We have found that the company tried selling its product under the banner of ‘Yug’ in Goa in 2010. Our probe found out that home appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, televisions and other items did not belong to Yug but to other companies.
Some panelists had pasted the Yug sticker on the companies’ brand names, which is again cheating,” said Sinha.
Prior to this it has been widely put forth by Speak Asia’s management and it’s panelists that Yug was a German brand, despite nobody ever having heard of them.
the rented office of SpeakAsia in Andheri has been shut down and the police have seized two hard disks from there.
Although I’m not sure if that took place recently or not as it’s unclear exactly how long ago the EOW restarted their investigation, although one would assume it was shortly after the June 13th High Court hearing.
With the Supreme Court squashing AISPA’s position that they were going to sort out all criminal matters the EOW were investigating, as I see it there’s not much of a recourse left for them.
Back in April, through writ petition 666/2012, AISPA had attempted to restrain the EOW from ‘interfering in the affairs of petitioner No.1 (AISPA), in any manner whatsoever‘.
The Mumbai High Court however rejected this petition, citing that they were
reluctant to grant a general direction restraining the respondents (EOW) from interfering in the affairs and functioning of petitioner No.1 (AISPA).
The High Court also emphasised that the EOW were ‘always at liberty to carry out investigations and for the said purpose to seek information in accordance with law‘.
At the time AISPA were worried about the EOW looking into ‘the petitioners’ investments and mode of running petitioner No.1 (AISPA)‘. I believe the petitioners in this case included Ashok Bahirwani and other AISPA committee members, along with AISPA in general.
What the EOW were uncovering isn’t clear but keep in mind that this petition was filed on the 14th of March, before the EOW’s investigation was stayed by the court on the 21st of March and right around the time the EOW issued AISPA Secretary Ashok Bahirwani a notice of pending arrest (as required by the Mumbai High Court). I believe the notice to arrest Bahirwani was delivered by the EOW around March 17th (give or take).
With the EOW now free to resume their investigation it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they continue where they left off in March. At the forefront of the EOW restarting their investigation is of course the arrest of Ashok Bahirwani for his involvement in the scam.
Either way, whatever the EOW end up doing at the time of publication no affidavit has been recorded as submitted in the case of stay vacation (300/2012) under ‘Office Information’. This could however very well be due to the fact that the court records won’t be updated until Monday itself.
If indeed an affidavit has been submitted though, it’s going to be amusing to watch AISPA’s counsel present to the High Court on Monday that the Supreme Court are still handling criminal matters through writ 383, despite them clearly stating their case has nothing to do with the investigation(s) in plain English.
Between that and any news resulting from the restart of the EOW’s criminal investigation, it might turn out to be quite the interesting week in the ongoing Speak Asia saga.
Maybe we’ll even see another silly list of demands from AISPA trotted out that again never winds up being submitted to the authorities…
Update 19th June, 2012 - It appears two affidavits were filed on the 16th July and the next hearing has been set for the 3rd July, along with writ 3611.